A man has been left in limbo trying to buy his council house after being told the wheelie bin access he’s used for 10 years doesn’t exist.
Ian Lowe of 52 Montalto Avenue, Motherwell, had done a deal with the council to buy the property and arranged a mortgage when his lawyer found there was no wheelie bin access listed on the deeds.
Mr Lowe lives in a block of four terraced houses that means he has to take his bin out via his neighbour Stephen Guthrie’s garden.
Ten years ago Mr Guthrie decided to extend 54 Montalto Avenue by building a conservatory.
Legally the council has a right to cross the face of Mr Guthrie’s back door, but due to the new addition this route would be blocked.
As such Mr Guthrie was told to leave room for Mr Lowe to take his bin out and moved the walls of the conservatory in a metre and a half.
The two men have lived with this arrangement causing no problems for a decade, but now Mr Guthrie has been told he has to spend hundreds of pounds to give the route legal standing.
Mr Guthrie said: “At the time I applied for planning permission I was told to leave room for Ian’s bin and was happy to do so.
“I can’t understand why no one at the council thought to tell me the new route had to be formalised legally, which by the time you take in the council and lawyer’s fees will cost hundreds of pounds.
“For the last 10 years there has never been a problem, Ian and I are best friends and I want nothing more than him to buy his home, so I will happily sign anything they like to formalise the access, but I don’t see why I should be penalised financially for something I wasn’t told needed to be done.”
Mr Lowe has backed his friend’s stance even though the stalemate leaves him unable to buy his house.
He said: “This should have been sorted out at the time the conservatory was built, the council has effectively left me in a house with no access for 10 years.
“The council has been out the back many times and never flagged anything up, it’s only now I’m trying to buy the house it’s suddenly become a problem and they need some bit of paper, but expecting me or Stephen to pay for it doesn’t seem right.”
Land ownership and access routes are not planning considerations so officials would not have felt it necessary to advise Mr Guthrie of the legal implications.
A council spokesman said: “Mr Guthrie has spoken with a number of officials and we are happy to continue dialogue.
“Mr Guthrie built his conservatory over a section of land which is, in legal terms, ‘burdened’. The council has a pedestrian right to cross a designated section of Mr Guthrie’s land. This allows the bin to be taken out.
“While there is a working arrangement, it is not backed up by the title deeds and could pose problems for future owners.
“At the time of Mr Guthrie’s house purchase 19 years ago there was no need to amend the title because the conservatory hadn’t been built and the access was clear.
“We are doing our utmost to resolve the issue and reduced our fee to £250. It is in everyone’s interests this be sorted out.”