An elderly couple have spent 10 years and squandered their entire life savings locked in a bitter dispute with their neighbour over a 76cm strip of land between their properties.
Great-grandparents Annette and Raymond Timmins have been at loggerheads with their 85-year-old neighbour Alan Soden for more than a decade, over a gate at the back of his house which opens on to their parking area.
The elderly couple, from Berkshire, told The Sun that they have fallen into depression after the neighbourly disagreement turned ugly, having spent around £121,000 (AU$221,000).
Things turned sour when Soden, who rents out the property, threatened to take legal action against Timmins’ after his tenants complained they were blocking the back gate with their car. The angry couple retaliated by constructing a fence which blocked the gate and Soden then took them to court.
He successfully claimed he had right of way over the Timmins’ parking space, arguing that he had been using it since before they moved in to their bungalow in 2004, and was awarded a 76cm-wide ‘path’ through their car space.
“I’ve spent almost everything I have,” Annette, 73, told The Sun. “It cost me everything. We’re now in depression. We just can’t believe this has happened. I have been parking on my land.
“But now I can be sued for parking on that 76cm space. He claimed he had a right of way and he won. If I could afford to challenge the decision then I would, but we’ve been left with nothing.”
Both homes, in Maidstone, have designated parking spaces in a shared car park, which backs onto the Soden property’s back garden. The access gate, which is the subject of the disagreement, opens directly onto the Timmins’ parking space.
The argument, which has been going for 11-years, cost Soden a staggering £76,000 – and the Timmins have been ordered to pay £27,000 towards his costs, as well as their own £45,000 legal bill, leaving them with no choice but to dip into the remainder of Raymond’s private pension to pay off the large sum.
“Ray told me to give it up but I wouldn’t”, said Annette, revealing how things took a turn for the worse in 2015 after they had a fence built, blocking Soden’s gate.
“I didn’t see how we could lose and I thought it would be right to fight for what is ours,” she said. “How it ended was devastating for us. I feel completely let down.
“It has had a terrible impact on us emotionally.”