A common type of property easement is when two neighboring properties have a shared driveway. Typically, each owner owns part of the driveway and has the legal right to use the entire driveway to drive their cars to and from their garages or parking areas at the rear of their properties. The other possibility may be that one owner owns the entire driveway, and the other neighbor has the right to use it for ingress (entering) and egress (exiting) purposes only. The easement prevents the parties from prohibiting the other from using the driveway. The easement should include the purpose, the legal description and boundaries. Generally, easements are recorded with the appropriate county office in the county where the property is located in case there is a claim against the property. Easements are important documents and should be drafted by a real estate attorney.
When you purchase a house with a shared driveway, don’t assume that you have the right to use the driveway. You should read the title report and property easement agreement carefully to make sure you understand your ownership rights and responsibilities including repair and maintenance of the driveway. It is also a good idea to order a property survey so you can determine your property boundaries and the location of the easement or any other easements or encroachments, such as neighbor's fences, etc. You may want to have your real estate attorney review the documents as well.
Occasionally disputes may arise with the other neighbor over the use of the shared driveway. Common disputes may include:
It is always best to try and resolve the dispute in a friendly manner since you both need access to the driveway, and you live next door to each other. However, if you cannot resolve the dispute, sometimes it is necessary to file a lawsuit and let the court resolve the matter. Your attorney can help you negotiate with your neighbor and represent you in court.
If you are purchasing a home with a shared driveway or have any questions regarding an existing shared driveway easement agreement, it is recommended that you consult with a real estate attorney. The attorney can answer your questions. The attorney can also assist you with any disputes that may arise regarding the easement.