A reader whose property allows access to a property at the rear via a panhandle is having a problem with that owner, who has removed her signage and house number and replaced them with his own.
The neighbour has also painted the pillars of the boundary wall on either side of the shared entrance a different colour to identify and distinguish the entrance as his and hers.
Attempts to discuss the matter with him have not been successful.
See the reader’s question here.
A panhandle generally results from an owner’s need to access his property, which is secured by way of a servitude over the property of another party.
The servitude is typically registered against the title deed of the front property in this case to ensure its validity in respect of third parties.
This ensures the continuity and enduring nature of the servitude, notwithstanding any change in ownership of the properties concerned.
Often a panhandle is designed to permit ingress and egress only by the owner of the property requiring such access, which means the driveway is not shared.
Where a driveway is shared, the potential for disputes increases.
This can typically occur when one neighbour abuses the area by parking vehicles in the driveway or otherwise preventing or frustrating access by other users.
In the current instance, the matter has taken an interesting turn.
A servitude of this nature should not do much more than ensure reasonable access to the rear property.
As far as the boundary of the reader’s property is concerned, the servitude does not permit her neighbour to remove and/or paint over her signage, nor to paint on the pillars on either side of the entrance.
A right of way is not to be confused with ownership, particularly of a boundary wall.
Due to the nature of a shared driveway and in the interests of being good neighbours, certain concessions will have to be made by the parties.
A reasonable arrangement should be reached which indicates the house numbers of each party, but the reader says her neighbour is not interested in discussing this matter.
Approaching the court for relief would seem to be extreme in the circumstances, but it is a possibility.
A more practical but arguably similarly extreme remedy may be for our reader to lay a charge of malicious injury to property, which is the unlawful and intentional damaging of the property of another.
In these circumstances, a stern and direct letter to the neighbour advising him to desist with the continued damage to property may serve as a reasonable warning.
The reader could advise that she intends to take legal steps should her demand not be complied with.
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