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Access To Gas And Electricity Meters

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iloveglee | 14:08 Fri 29th Jul 2016 | Civil
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I have a dilemma to which i cannot find a solution anywhere. I live in a semi detached house, and the boundary between the house next door (not joined on) is mine. We have never had a fence up on this boundary, on the front of the house, and we get on well with these neighbours. Some years ago, they had an extension built on the side of the house, and the gas meter was placed on the wall facing my boundary. There is in fact hardly any space between the meter, and my boundary, but as there has never been a fence or wall, has never been an issue. Now, two things have arisen. First of all, i want to put up a fence between us, mainly to keep my dog in. If I build this fence, where i want to put it, this will mean no one can access the gas meter. I compromised on this, and said that even with a fence, access can be gained to their meter. Now they are leaving. Part of the compromise was that my fence, across the width of my drive, was to be attached to their extension. They are happy about this, but what if the new owners are not. They have a gate along the boundary into their back garden, which i trust them to keep closed, they have a dog of their own so it is in their interests also to keep the gate closed. If the new owners are not to careful with the gate, then that is a way for my dog to get out. Which is the reason why i want a fence between the two houses. I realise that their builder putting the meter there is their problem, but do i have any responsibility to allow them to access their meter from my property. The property is on leaseheld land, and having studied the lease in details, there is no mention of access to meters. Prior to the extension being built the meter was easily accessible from their own land. The land registry entry makes no mention either of access to meters. I presume that when the lease was written, no one would have thought that a gas meter would be placed so near someone elses boundary. I also cannot find any legislation which states that meters have to have clearance on your own property, because the builder could be liable here for placing it in such a silly place. I dont want to start life with new neighbours with disputes about meter access, but i do need to sort this fence out as soon as possible. Does anyone have any idea about this, or how i could find out.

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I am no legal expert but I have opinions.

The lack of paragraphs and difficulty dividing what you are thinking of doing from what you have done, isn't helping me work out the issue.

The existing/proposed fence is/is going to be between the houses isn't it ? Then I'm unsure why it is referred to as on the front then.

Ok, the side extension was built very near the boundary and they (your neighbours) were foolish enough to have their meter installed there. I'd say that was their look out.

My first thought, the fence could incorporate a door in the fence that allowed one to view the meter. You could do this as a gesture of good will, although I still think it's their look out. (Presumably, at present, they have folk go onto your property to read their meter. Blooming cheek !)

You agreed some compromise but haven't built the fence yet ?

What if the new owners are not happy ? Get the fence built before the neighbours sell, and let the folks viewing decide if they are happy or not before they put in an offer. Or leave it until afterwards and say, "Tough" if they complain.

If the new neighbours open the gate and let your dog out I'd suggest that was their look out. You have your dog fenced in before they let it out. But isn't this a side issue ?

I'd leave it to the expert legal eagles here to comments of rights to access the meter. I would have thought that it was the owners' responsibility to ensure the meter is accessible.

I suspect the builder just did as he was told, and if he wasn't told then that is the responsibility of those who employed him, or the architect who drew up the extension plans placing the meter there.

So, after that large paragraph this is simply an issue about whether it is your responsibility to allow a neighbour access to a meter that they foolishly put in a difficult to get to location ? If whatever compromise you agreed is in place before the place is put on the market then there ought not be an issue.
Question Author
thanks for the advice, sorry about this not being paragraphed, i can see myself its difficult to sort the wood from the trees. i will look at the points you have made.

when i say front, what i mean is the driveway alongside the houses, as opposed to the boundary dividing the gardens.

i agree that it would be their problem if they let my dog out, but making them responsible if my dog was killed wouldnt get my dog back.

currently we havent started any building of fences, but were planning to do so shortly, until the issue of the access to the meter came up. we have never had a problem with the gas people coming on our drive to get to their meter, we get on well with these neighbours so there has never been an issue here. There are currently no gates or fences between our drives.

i agree with the idea of a little gate, we had thought of that also. this is going to make the job more expensive, but we could always ask them to contribute i guess.

i have been wondering if this could pose a legal problem for anybody at some stage, which really was what i was trying to find out. The fact is, no matter what kind of gate, or fence arrangement we build, our land will always have to be accessed in order for their meter to be accessed, because its position makes in inaccessible otherwise, and of course i dont know whether we have to allow this. the land is leasehold, so actually doesnt belong to us as such.



I think I would just tell them you are having a fence put up and would they like to get their meter moved before you do so. You are then giving them the chance to sort it out before it becomes a problem for the new people.
Long post...

I think one of the aspects is that you have an agreement with the owners which you have recognised is personal
and you want to get the agreement to move with the land....

Tulk v Moxhay 1848

you will not find legislation because it is all case law in a something called equity in which.... ter ddda h.... Barmaid specialises
and she often looks in

my view is that you might be able to get it in the 'title deeds' so long as it is not a positive covenant which costs them money ....

and from the lady bird point of view
I would offer to move their meters to an accessible point at YOUR cost....

saying "I am cutting off access and you wil have to pay to modify the consequences of my unilateral actions" strikes me as a complete non starter.

T v M is here
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulk_v_Moxhay
Question Author
Well, Im not sure its reasonable that i should have to bear the cost of them moving their meter, when the meter should never have been put there in the first place. For the sake of argument, if i wanted to have an extension, the same as next doors, on the side of my house, i wouldnt be able to because of their meter. that doesnt seem quite right to me.

their access to their meter is at my goodwill. from the day they had their extension, we said its ok to use our drive to get round to your back garden, but i dont believe we had to do that. they understood that by putting the extension where they did, they might have to go through the house to get to the back, it was us that offered to let them use our driveway to get to the back garden.

now my circumstances have changed, i have a dog which i want to fence in. how does this get to be my problem (and potential cost), when their meter should never have been so close to my boundary. in fact, we had never even noticed it before, until we came to have a quote for the fence and the fencing man raised the issue of access to their meter.

this is why i wanted to know if there is any law which makes me HAVE to allow them access to their meter, and which PREVENTS me from blocking the access.
Question Author
Just had a read of the case law. not sure if such applies here. no formal agreement as such has ever been made between us and next door, there is absolutely nothing in the deeds or land registry entry regarding access anywhere via anyone elses land.

the thing is, when the houses were built, they were simple three bedroom semis, with a driveway between each pair. its only since then people have made additions on the side of the house, using the driveway, that parts of each house have almost touched parts of the next door.

the lease actually says no buildings shall be put on the land without permission of the leaseholder, but i have no idea whether they asked permission or not.

i suspect very few people on this street have actually done so, looking at the blots on the landscape some folks have added.

that aside, this 'agreement' has only ever been one of those, its ok we dont mind you walking over our drive to get to your garden. the meter never came into it actually, because as in the previous post, we had never even noticed it. we have no gates or fences on the drive, so in the past the meter readers simply came over the drive and got into the meter without asking.

what slightly complicates it so far as understanding of whose land is whose, is that there is a little wall, about 6 inches high between the drives, and it could be argued that 'I walked on the wall, i thought it was theirs'. in fact, we had to go to the deeds to establish whose little wall it actually was. and its ours, so next door have absolutely no land at all between their meter and our drive.

i am going to have to have a serious discussion with them about it, as opposed to just mentioning it in passing, because i dont think anyone else has picked up on this at all.
thank you

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