Homeowner Backed Over Plan to Ban 'Annoying' Neighbors From Using Shortcut

A poster on the U.K.-based online forum Mumsnet has been urged to stop neighbors from using the poster's land as a shortcut to enter their home.

In the lengthy post, user thelongroad, who is in Germany, explained that the homeowners next door use the poster's walkway as a shortcut to their back door.

The user wants to address the situation but doesn't want to come across as "cranky" and "unsociable." However, 97 percent of 1,155 respondents to the original poster (OP) voted "you are not being unreasonable" in a poll on the Mumsnet page.

Gill Hasson, the author of How to Deal With Difficult People, had some advice on dealing with this situation. She told Newsweek: "In any situation where you feel that someone else's behavior is unreasonable, you have to take responsibility for managing the problem. Especially when the other person doesn't think they are doing anything wrong. So think through your options and the consequences of each option."

A stock image shows neighbors having a confrontation. A problem with neighbors using a homeowner's private walkway to get to their back door has drawn a strong response on the U.K.-based online forum Mumsnet. tampatra/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Those options, according to Hasson, are:

  • Ask the neighbors not to use the shortcut as a cut-through, even if this comes across as petty and not neighborly.
  • Put up a sign at both ends of the shortcut that says, "Private. No public access," although people may ignore it.
  • Put nets, curtains or blinds in the living room so people can't see in when they walk by.
  • Put a stop to the problem by installing a gate at either end of the shortcut. One or both gates could have a lock. "This might be not very pleasant for the OP, but as I said, they have to take control here," Hasson said. "Take responsibility for managing the situation."

The OP lives in a rural village and hasn't got a back garden, according to the post.

"We own the bit between us and [the] corner house (their land is fenced off all round). It's sloping downwards towards the back, and we've paved it and put in steps (grey lines) so we can walk from front to back of [the] house. I've also got plants growing there and we have our firewood stack on the side," the OP wrote.

The OP also said children occasionally use the steps as a shortcut while playing in the summer. And workmen ask to use it when working on the road.

But the new neighbors, who arrived this past December, use the shortcut all of the time, which the Mumsnet user finds grating.

"It's (irrationally?) annoying the f*** out of me that they seem to think they can just come onto my property because it's more convenient for them," the OP wrote. "I've even blocked the bit at the front with a row of plant pots to make it slightly more obvious that it's not a public way, but they're still using it.

"I can't decide if I'm being deeply unneighbourly and unreasonable in wanting them to stop using our steps. I know I can ask them to stop and they will have to (from a legal point of view) but should I? Why does this bother me so much?"

The post has racked up over 220 replies, and many of the Mumsnet users seem to agree.

One said: "Just tell them there seems to be a misunderstanding the steps are our garden, not [a] public path."

Another wrote: "Have a word with them. Polite but remind them that if they keep doing it, they are trespassing."

Another commenter said: "That is beyond cheeky, but perhaps they genuinely [don't] realize it's not public. I'd be getting gates."

Newsweek was not able to verify the details of the case.

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