Q1. How can I tell whether a road is private? A. The highway authority – usually the County Council – keeps a statutory list of “highways maintainable at the public expense”. If the road is on this list it is not a private road. If it isn’t on the list, it is almost certainly a private road; though it may nonetheless be a highway for one or more classes of traffic, e.g. a footpath, meaning that there is a public right of way for pedestrians.
Q2. Is there a difference between a private road and a private street? A.There’s no legal difference, though local authorities and others sometime use these terms as a matter of convenience to differentiate between (for example) roads with houses and roads without, or between through-roads and cul-de-sacs.
Q3. What about “unadopted” roads? A. “Unadopted” means the same as “private”.
Q4. Does motoring law apply in private roads? A. This depends upon the legal status of the road. For a full explanation see Private Roads: The Legal Framework, 5th ed, chapters 1 and 8.
Q5. Can we install electrically controlled gates or a barrier, to stop the public using our road? A. This raises several legal issues; in particular, whether there is a public right of way for vehicles. If so, the public right of way must not be obstructed, since this is an offence.
Q6. What should I do if I am thinking of buying a house in a private road? A. If you are thinking of buying a house in an established private road, your solicitor (or licensed conveyancer) will be able to check whether there is an active residents’ association or management company, and if so how it works and what obligations and rights residents may have. You may find that banks and building societies are reluctant to fund purchases without obtaining some reassurance that all is in order with the organisation of the road and that there are no problems with legal issues such as rights of way. If there is an active and well-run residents’ association or company you can usually buy with confidence. If not, a degree of circumspection may be wise, in view of the problems which may arise in the absence of proper organisation.
Q7. Does your book contain the answer to the problem which I have? A. Please see our online shop for details. This gives a good idea of what the book covers. If you’d like to see the book before buying it, we suggest obtaining a copy from your public library – the current edition is the 5th, published in 2013.
Q8. Can individuals join PRS? A. We’re sorry, but no. Our aim is to help residents collectively, whether they have already formed an association or company or are a group of residents seeking to do so. However, some of the materials available to members can be found in the shop on the public part of this website, including chapters of Managing Private Roads and Estates and newsletters.
Q9. Has the law changed much since the last edition of your book? A. The law is changing, and becoming more complicated, all the time. Like all legal books, ours starts to become out of date as soon as it is published! It’s not wise to rely on an old edition.
Q10. Does PRS act as a managing agent for private roads? A. We don’t offer this service. The use of managing agents often seems to be unsatisfactory from the point of residents in a private road, with a high annual charge and poor service. A DIY approach seems to work much better. We regularly find residents’ association turning to us for help, having “sacked” their agents and resolved to manage their road themselves.
Q11. Does PRS carry out, or arrange for, grass-cutting, resurfacing, or other physical work? A. No, we don’t. Sorry.
Q12 Has the law changed much since the last edition of your book? A. The law is changing, and becoming more complicated, all the time. Like all legal books, ours starts to become out of date as soon as it is published! It’s not wise to rely on an old edition.