Shared Road Easement Problems

ezgrillDecember 6, 2002

My Neighbor and I equally share an 18 foot Road Easement to allow a 3rd land locked neighbor access to their home. WE all use this easement to get to and from our homes.

With-in this 18 foot easement is a paved road surface approx. 14 feet wide. I own 9 feet the easement South of the center line and my neighbor owns the 9 feet North of the center line. Where as the center line is the property line.

An easement agrement in 1953 states that "all parties that use the easement must share equally the expence for maintaince and repairs of the road lying over said rigt of way."

For the past 9 years I have beed provoding all the maintaince of the paved surface, such as sealcoating,

patching of holes, and all snow removal. All this maintaince

was done at my own expence. No paymens where ever asked of the neighbors who use the easement.

My neighbor, who owns the South half of the easement, an I, who owns the North half, are involved in a civil law suit about the easement.

He does not want me to remove the snow from his half of the easement. He said that is was his responsibility and his responsibility only!

After a snow fall, he does not clear all of the snow from his half of the easement he owns. He only clears the snow in front of his house. The snow remains in his half of the easement leading to my house. With only half the easement cleared of snow, it is difficult to get to and from my house safely.

I am worried about emergency vehicles getting to my home when only a portion of 4 to 7 foot of snow is removed from the 14 foot paved surface.

My question is do I have a right to remove the snow from his side the the easement to have a reasonable access to and from my home?

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This is a question best posed to your lawyer since you are involved in a lawsuit already. What does the 3rd person who uses the road think?

    Bookmark   December 6, 2002 at 1:52PM
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In Pennsylvania that wouldn't wash at all, I don't think, but the land laws are likely a LOT different.

You need an attorney who's knowledgable about real estate use laws.

In Pennsylvania your neighbor's suit likely wouldn't fly, as IIRC access easements are treated virtually as community property, even though the actual property line may split the easement.

What's your neighbor's reasons for not clearing his side?

Does he have to drive over the snow covered section of the easement, or can he get out from the section he clears?

What is your attorney telling you?

There's the possibility, since you've maintained this road with no assistance from him, that you could possibly claim squatters rights to the ENTIRE thing. Unlikely, but weirder things have happened.

Friends of mine were embroiled in a nearly 25-year easement dispute. They were landlocked, and their property had a nearly 100-year-old easment across an EXTREMELY disagreeable neighbor's property. The neighbor, of course, claimed the road as his own property, and maintained that it was his right to charge rent for access to the road.

It went to court at least half a dozen times, each time my friends won, but the neighbor kept gating the road (Willy got the point where he always carried bolt cutters in the car), parking trucks and cars across the entrance to the road (he dragged several out of the way with his tractor).

The real topper was when the guy dug a moat across the road, effectively trapping my friends in their home.

That one backfired badly, because it violated a restraining order, and the neighbor ended up spending a few days in county jail, and Willy sued him and won a considerable sum of money.

It finally got so bad, though, that Willy and his wife were armed at all times.

It was a really weird situation.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2002 at 12:46AM
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Consult your lawyer, but here it is the responsiblity of the land owner to remove all snow from his main front walk or easement and from the walk to his front door. Failure to do so can result in a fine, or in case of an injury incurred by the public, a lawsuit. Nor are we allowed to place our snow into the roadway, it must be removed to non walkway areas of our property, or if you want to incur the expense, proffessionally hauled away.


    Bookmark   December 10, 2002 at 3:25PM
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I'm curious about the third party who uses the road also. What is his opinion of the lack of snow removal? Does it pose a hazard to him also? Is he willing to cover his share of expenses, join your lawsuit? Any help from him is sure to be in your favor. Go sweet talk him, and see how it irons out! Good Luck, and let us know the outcome!

    Bookmark   December 12, 2002 at 12:36AM
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Don't know the lay of your land but I'd try to figure out a new access to my property and then, as you're not using the easement, you don't have to worry about doing any maintenance now nor deal with the expenses or neighbors in the future.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2002 at 11:37AM
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Mikie, this person owns part of the easement- I bet finding another access to the property will not alleviate the fact that they are responsible for part of thier own property.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2002 at 12:11PM
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I think a lot of people get confused in these shared road easements and perhaps the law does vary in different localities. In my case when the 20 farm acres were developed into 4 private acreage properties, the two houses behind me and my neighbors didn't abutt the county road so straight up the middle is a 40 ft wide roadway. 20 ft on each side of the center line is legally owned by the two house landlocked behind us because the local land use laws do not allow anyone to develop housing on a property that does not abutt a road, so each of them back there has there 20 ft wide strip side by side down to the county road, making it look like a 40 ft road. Both mine and my other neighbors houses are built quite far back from the county road as well and we both have "easements" or the right to use the respective 20 ft side for only the distance from the county road up to our house/driveway no further. Now the two landlocked neighbors behind us are fighting and one of them has put up fence posts down the center line effectively creating two 20 ft wide driveways but I can still use the side I hold the easement over which is fine. I read the Easement paperwork very carefuly and had a lawyer look at it as well, the way it is written it is more favorable to me than to the neighbor who actually owns the land, he cannot do anything to that 20 ft wide strip I have rights over that would in anyway hinder my access to use it, he can't change the grade, he can't install a fence,gate, nothing, even though legally he "owns" it. The holder of the easement usually has more "rights" than the actual land owner in cases like this.
Easments are usually registered to the land as well, not to the owner of the property and are registered with the state or provincial lands registery. So when you sell or he sells the paperword doesn't have to be rewritten.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2002 at 2:19AM
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My first thought was why would he complain about you removing snow from his property? Heck, if someone wanted to shovel me out, I'd say "have at it!" That's just me.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2003 at 6:09PM
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