Sorry, this is a bit of a long "what would you do?" post.
We've recently moved into a new house at the entrance to a small close. We own the shared drive, but our neighbours have right of way across it. We also own all the parking adjacent to the drive (two spaces by our garage, and some more on the other side). The neighbours parking is limited to their garage and the space in front of it in a courtyard.
The previous owners of our house had an informal agreement with the neighbours that they could park infrequently and for short periods in the spaces furthest from our house. It was made clear during the purchase that it would be up to us as to whether we continued the arrangement which I believe goes back about eight to 10 years.
In the few weeks since we arrived, there have regularly been cars parked in the spaces, one of which has been there on and off every day. When we asked the owner (granddaughter of a neighbour) not to park there, she was quite affronted, but moved. Last night another neighbour was using two of the spaces, and my wife reminded them that it wasn't communal parking, they were very assertive and said "it has always been communal", and didn't want to give any ground at all.
Unlike our predecessor, we have friends and family locally, who will regularly drop in, so we had intended to change the arrangement so that people only park there if none of their own parking is available and if they ask our permission. Following the altercation we are inclined to say that they can't park there at all. It is clear from the land registry that the land belongs to us, so I don't think that there is any ambiguity about usage.
I don't want to fall out with the neighbours, but equally, I don't want to have to go and ask them to move their cars whenever someone pops round. I'm also struggling to come to terms with their seeming sense of entitlement.
Any thoughts or suggestions? Don't want to get the bombers out, and yes, I know I'm a lucky bastard to only have this sort of problem to deal with.