August 14, 2021
Walk your way out
To: either/view subscribers
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS – EDITION 3
Right of way
Good morning. You might have wonderful relationships with friends and relatives who are only a phone call away. But the one person you can immediately turn to for anything is the person next-door to you… your neighbour. That’s why being on friendly terms with your neighbour always comes in handy.
Alas, that’s not possible all the time. Not all neighbours are understanding. In some cases, they could be bitter towards you. If you were to be around them, chances are you might face some everyday challenges.
Here’s a scenario you might encounter when you have difficult neighbours. Suppose someone is buying the land in front of your house. Before constructing a building in the land, they befriend you and have a fun conversation about the neighbourhood. All is well and you’re happy that you are finally going to get a good neighbour. However, when they start construction work, you find that the layout does not get along with your house. It’s not a matter of it being a bigger apartment or a grand independent house. Your problem is that once the building is constructed, your access to the main road will be obstructed.
You realise that you will have no way to reach the main road other than entering through their house. Well, awkward much? Don’t worry. You have the right of way. It literally means you have the right to enter through your neighbour’s property in order to enjoy your necessary benefits. So, your best shot at this situation would be to get things sorted before/while the construction is happening. You can let them know that your way is being blocked by the building and so, as per your right, you can walk through their land for your needs. They cannot say no.
Even if you do miss out on figuring this problem before the construction gets over, you can claim your right later on. You can give them a warm welcome to their new house and then talk about the situation over a cup of coffee. But if things go wrong and your neighbour claims that you cannot enter their private property, there’s another way out. You can take a legal recourse and get your problem solved.
The Indian Easements Act provides us with a list of rights that a property owner or occupier has. Just like the right of way we discussed, you also have the right to air, right to light, right to uninterrupted flow of water, etc. Although all of this would apply to any property owner, if you have lived on your land for a reasonable period of time, you can simply think of this as your privilege.
Wait a minute. This right comes with a few conditions. The most important reason by which you can exercise these rights is necessity. You cannot take your neighbour to the court because their building deprives you of your luxury. Let’s understand what this necessity is through a scenario.
Your neighbour’s building stands in the way of your access to the road. There is no other possible route to the road. You must walk through their land to reach the other side.
In this scenario, if your neighbour does not allow you to enter their land, you can file a petition and take legal action against them. You’re not alone in this. There have been others who have arrived in court because of neighbour disputes. So if you end up in a sour fight with your neighbour, exercise your right without fear!
Your neighbour’s building shuts you off from your convenient pathway. It’s not the only way to reach the road, but it’s the easiest. Your alternative path is a rough passage that would take you another 20 minutes to reach your desired destination.
In this scenario, your case is weak. It’s because that route through your neighbour’s land is not your necessity. It is not the only option to reach the road. In which case, your neighbour has the right to ask you to go by the longer or more inconvenient path. So be careful in such situations and try to work it out with your neighbour.
All in all, you must have genuine reasons to claim your rights. Rest assured, your legal rights as an owner will ensure that you walk your way out of this.