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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    3

    Default What is Your Responsibility for Maintenance of Easements

    My question involves an easement in the state of:Pennsylvania

    Hello,

    Thanks in advance for your assistance. I have easement for use of a driveway which is mostly in my neighbor's property. The end of the shared part of the driveway is perpendicular to the road and is between our homes. This part of the driveway is 1/3 in my yard, 2/3 in his yard. Then the driveway veers left and for a long portion it is completely in my neighbor's yard. The easement covers my right of use but does not mention maintenance.

    I always just assumed that the driveway was 50% my responsibility. Now, a new buyer for the house next door is trying to convince me to sign a shared maintenance agreement that states that the driveway is 50% my responsibility. He showed up on the day of the closing and insisted I had to sign it immediately. Of course I refused and he was angry. Now after some research I have come to the conclusion I am only responsibile for the portion of the driveway that is in my property. This agreement would obligate me to maintain a driveway which is almost completely in my neighbors property and possibility bring down the value of my home by obligating a potential buyer.

    Sorry for the long post. Am I correct that my obligations stop at the property line? If a new driveway was being put in I would only be responsible for the portion being installed in my property, correct? Same with snow removal? Thanks again for any information or advice you can provide.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    28,119

    Default Re: Easements

    Sorry for the long post. Am I correct that my obligations stop at the property line?
    generally, no.

    This is not based on PA law as it is darn near impossible for me to access PA laws in general so I kind of gave up. This is based on general rulings and common law.

    With an easement, barring an agreement contrary, you are generally considered to be liable for a pro-rata share of the costs of maintenance of the easement. That means if you both use the entire easement, you are both liable for 1/2 of the total costs to maintain the easement.

    Your liability does not stop at the property line. In fact, you can almost think of it as it starting once it goes onto another's property. You are using their property and causing damage to their property. It is only right to expect you to be liable for the costs to maintain the easement.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Easements

    The person buying the property wants to upgrade the driveway in the next year or 2, however, when the driveway fits my need perfectly in the condition it is in currently. It is asphalt, and has a few cracks, but I can drive up the the road on it with no problems. I don't care about having a pretty driveway, am I obligated to contribute to his need to have one?

    In the interest of being thorough, it is described as a right of way and mentioned as a easement in passing.

    "Together with a right of way fifteen (15) feet in width for the purpose of ingress, egress, and regress for both pedestrian and vehicular traffic from *** avenue to the property of the grantees, the northeasterly boundary line of said easement being more particularly bounded and described as follow: (description of area of easement)

    Not to be rude to jk but he admits to not being an attorney and uses phrases such as "it is only right". I'm not interested in right and wrong, I'm only interested in my legal obligations in the state of Pennsylvania. Could anyone who admits to being an attorney give me an opinion on the legality of the matter? If jk is correct I don't understand why the potential buyers of the property next door are trying to muscle me into signing the Shared Maintenance Agreement. Thanks again for your time and assistance.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    28,119

    Default Re: Easements

    Not to be rude to jk but he admits to not being an attorney and uses phrases such as "it is only right". I'm not interested in right and wrong, I'm only interested in my legal obligations in the state of Pennsylvania. Could anyone who admits to being an attorney give me an opinion on the legality of the matter? If jk is correct I don't understand why the potential buyers of the property next door are trying to muscle me into signing the Shared Maintenance Agreement. Thanks again for your time and assistance.
    well, I was trying to be nice and not insult you. I'll let others help you from here on out.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    312

    Default Re: What is Your Responsibility for Maintenance of Easements

    Your new neighbor may have needed an agreement for the bank to be comfortable, some banks require it and others don't.

    If the neighbor wants to "Upgrade" the driveway, that's on them. Upgrade is not Maintenance, maintenance is just keeping the existing driveway in passable shape. Filling holes and sealing cracks is maintenance.

    Normally you would be responsible for half the cost of whatever percentage of the driveway you use. If it's a 100ft driveway and you only use the first 50' then you would be responsible for 25% of the total cost to maintain the driveway(half of half).

    Maintenance is needed because of use of the driveway, not ownership. If the portion on your property is wide enough for you to use without using the portion on your neighbors property then you could argue that you are not required to maintain that portion since you don't use it. Do you use it?

    You did not mention the upgrade plans in the beginning post, that's a whole dfferent situation than discussing maintenance. Most time a maintenance agreement would not apply to an Upgrade of the driveway. A maintenance agreement does not assure that there will be no problems between you anyway. What about snow removal, what if one wants to call a plow and other says "no, lets shovel it". In that case you may still end up in court to settle situations like this.

    Since you always assumed you were responsible for 50% of the maintenance, why would you have a problem signing a maintenance agreement documenting what you already believed? That agreement might enhance your value instead of decreasing it as a new owner would be assured that the neighbor would not destroy the driveway that both use and not help fix it.

    This board is strictly for helping each other out with ADVICE, even if an attorney did post to your question, unless they operated in PA they still could not give you a concrete answer.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: What is Your Responsibility for Maintenance of Easements

    I want to start by saying thank you to both of you for taking the time to respond to my post. And apologize to jk for being rude. Having a guy thrust a contract at me and demand I sign immediately has me completely frazzeled. The reason I won't sign the contact is I've always been taught never to sign a legal document I don't fully understand without a lawyer. The speed and urgency in which they want this done makes me wary and I don't see why I should incur the cost of a lawyer over a real estate transaction I'm not involved in.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    21

    Default Re: What is Your Responsibility for Maintenance of Easements

    Quote Quoting Worker_Guy
    View Post
    I want to start by saying thank you to both of you for taking the time to respond to my post. And apologize to jk for being rude. Having a guy thrust a contract at me and demand I sign immediately has me completely frazzeled. The reason I won't sign the contact is I've always been taught never to sign a legal document I don't fully understand without a lawyer. The speed and urgency in which they want this done makes me wary and I don't see why I should incur the cost of a lawyer over a real estate transaction I'm not involved in.
    Good reply and the apology to jk was due.

    I strongly agree that you are responsible for a fair share of the maintenance; however, I think it would be foolish to enter into a formal contract with the new neighbor/buyer and you are not obligated to do so. If the easement and its use have survived to date there is no need for that to change simply because the new buyer wants it to. If his lender is insisting then perhaps he should look for a different property.

    Sometimes when no legal requirement dictates how the maintenance if carried out on common easements it is "the right thing to do" by paying a fair share of the cost for the entire easement that all of the parties use.

    It is unfortunate that the relationship with your new neighbor is off to a poor start. Nothing god generally come of that.

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