What are an owner’s rights to improve a driveway easement?

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What are an owner’s rights to improve a driveway easement?

Our property was purchased several years ago. There is currently an easement to get to our property;it is gravel bumpy road 300 feet long, behind 2 neighbors’ fences. We would like to pave the easement, due to the fact that it is gravel and messes up the cars while driving on it. What can we do? Originally the selling real estate agent said that we could improve it, but we got nothing in writing. On a side note, our property is the oldest plat in the area with the “easement” showing up on old property records long before any other piece of surrounding property was sold or built on.

Asked on January 28, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Virginia

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Believe it or not, states can have laws that are specific to the issue of easements as I am sure that you know that people fight over these matters all the time.  California has an entire code that is dedicated to maintenance, repair, etc.  Generally speaking, the costs of maintaining and repairing easements to property are shared by all those who share the road. In some instances there can be apportionment of cost but this deals with fact specific issues like location of the property to the easement, actual use, etc.  Also generally a party can not improve an easement and force the others to help pay for it.  Now, I am sure that you could improve it and pay for it all BUT, what happens when the improvement needs to be repaired or repaved here?  You may not be able to force the others to do so down the road.  I would take your deed and seek help from a real estate attorney in your area.  Good luck.


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