Controversial Boris Johnson artist locked in £100,000 legal row with neighbour over car parking spot

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A controversial artist who once invited the public to deface her portrait of Boris Johnson has clashed with her neighbour in a £100,000 row over parking rights in their front yard.

Helen Masacz was taken to court by civil servant Bernard Chaney, 62, after he complained he was being shut out of the right to park in front of his £500,000 apartment in St George’s Road, Palmers Green.

Ms Masacz, an amputee, owns the £400,000 downstairs garden flat and says she has parked in front of it exclusively since she moved in 17 years ago.

Given her disability, having a parking space in front of her home was crucial to her, she told Central London County Court.

Artist Helen Masacz has been taken to court by civil servant Bernard Chaney, 62, after he complained he was being shut out from using a parking space outside his home

‘Walking any distance is a source of pain,’ she explained, and she bought her flat on the understanding that she would have sole use of the front space for her car.

There was only room for one car at the front, she added, and even radical alterations would still leave a cramped area – making parking highly awkward for a disabled driver.

Ms Masacz sparked controversy back in November 2018 when she offered guests at a special event a chance to deface her painting of Boris Johnson after she became disillusioned with his stance on Brexit.

Ms Masacz was famed for her portrait of Boris Johnson holding a mollusc, which once hung in the National Gallery, before she allowed guests at an event to deface it in light of Brexit

Ms Masacz was famed for her portrait of Boris Johnson holding a mollusc, which once hung in the National Gallery, before she allowed guests at an event to deface it in light of Brexit

Her £10,000 picture, which once hung in the National Portrait Gallery, depicted the then Mayor of London holding a large mollusc, reflecting his description of himself as hard on the outside and soft in the middle.

Guests were provided with brushes at the Royal Opera Arcade Gallery event to daub paint over the work.

In the legal row at Central London County Court, Ms Masacz insisted that allowing two cars in the cramped front garden area would create noise and disturbance.

And she claimed Mr Chaney – who lives in Belgium – only wants the parking space to increase the marketability of his upper maisonette flat to tenants.

‘His interest is purely financial,’ she claimed. ‘If he can secure the right for a sub-tenant to park in the front garden, he can obtain a higher rent.’

She bought her flat on the understanding that she would have sole use of the front garden, which she wanted to use as a parking space, Ms Masacz told the court.

Mr Chaney’s plans to open up the space for two cars would probably involve ‘concreting over’ part of the front garden, to which she had ‘aesthetic objections’, while they would also create access problems.

This image shows Ms Masacz's downstairs flat in Palmers Green with a car parked in front. Mr Chaney, who lives in Belgium and rents out the property, is the owner of the flat located above

This image shows Ms Masacz’s downstairs flat in Palmers Green with a car parked in front. Mr Chaney, who lives in Belgium and rents out the property, is the owner of the flat located above

The parking bay outside the downstairs flat can be seen to be only slightly widen than a conventional waste removal skip. Mr Chaney has proposed removing the brick wall and paving the driveway at a cost of around £4,000

The parking bay outside the downstairs flat can be seen to be only slightly widen than a conventional waste removal skip. Mr Chaney has proposed removing the brick wall and paving the driveway at a cost of around £4,000

‘It’s important to be able to have access to the pathway so I can get inside the house. The properties are joined at the hip,’ Ms Masacz explained.

The case reached court as Mr Chaney applied for a ruling that he is entitled to ‘use the front garden area to park his vehicle and that Ms Masacz is unreasonably withholding consent.’

Mr Chaney’s lawyers claimed that his neighbour has no right to object to opening up another parking slot.

He proposes removing a brick wall and paving the driveway at a cost of around £4,000.

Ms Masacz claimed her original lease gave her the exclusive right to park outside her flat, which she had enjoyed for the past 17 years.

And the court had no power to ‘interfere’ with that right, her lawyers argued.

After a two-day trial, Judge Mark Raeside said the evidence suggested that Mr Chaney’s alteration project was ‘workable.’

But he pointed out that both she and Mr Chaney now jointly own the freehold through an agreement laying down that ‘neither of them should force each other to something they don’t wish to do’.

Ms Masacz, an amputee, owns the £400,000 downstairs garden flat and says she has parked in front of it exclusively since she moved in 17 years ago

Ms Masacz, an amputee, owns the £400,000 downstairs garden flat and says she has parked in front of it exclusively since she moved in 17 years ago

And although Ms Masacz had enjoyed exclusive parking access for many years, there was no guarantee ‘that nothing would change in future and that that state of affairs would be preserved in aspic’.

The judge said that the fight between the neighbours – which lawyers said has already run up a £100,000 court bill – would have to continue and could not be resolved by him at this stage.

He declined to rule that Mr Chaney is entitled to use the front garden to park his car until consideration has been given to the issue of compensating Ms Masacz for altering the front garden.

‘Final resolution has been postponed,’ Mr Chaney’s barrister Chris Bryden said.

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