What Is Prescriptive Right of Access?

Written by kristin jaroma
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What Is Prescriptive Right of Access?
Prescriptive right of access may be required to ensure buyers have the rights necessary to enjoy and use a piece of property. (property image by Philip Date from Fotolia.com)

Property buyers in the UK must be careful when purchasing a piece of property and may want to pay attention to prescriptive rights of access that benefit the property. The rights, which allow for full use of purchased property are usually granted through a transfer document or deed grant.

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To legally obtain a prescriptive right of access, it is given through the Prescriptive Act 1832. To be granted the right of access, it must be shown that it has already been enjoyed for at least 20 continuous years. The right of access to the property's full use must have been done openly. There must be an absence of force, and you must be a freehold owner of the property, not a tenant or renter trying to obtain a prescriptive right against the landlord and owner.


A prescriptive right gives the buyer the ancillary right to enter and repair a property. This is not an obligation, but a right to do so. This, however, does not extend into the buyer's right to make improvements. Replacing a dirt and gravel walking path with a concrete path is not a repair, it is an improvement; a right not granted in a right of access.


A certain amount of uncertainty comes along with a prescriptive right of access. For buyer protection, the buyer ought to approach the owner of the property to inquire about acquiring a formal deed of easement. This may entail a premium payment or legal cost. Even without a formal deed from the property's landlord, it is possible to register your prescriptive right with the Land Registry for your legal protection.

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