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  1. #1
    derwood95 is offline Junior Member
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    driveway easement rights

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Mississippi

    We bought our house in 2003. Attached to our deed of trust was Exhibit "A" defining our easement rights to ingress and egress to and from a shared driveway. Our easement rights are 15 feet from the middle of the driveway on either side. The shared driveway is approx. 550 feet long.

    Our neighbor, who owns the property including the shared driveway, has always been difficult. She has never disputed our rights for our vehicles to basically come and go, but she has defined ingress and egress to just that.

    She initially said our child could not ride his bicycle down the driveway. She also told us that our guests could not park on the grass on the side of the driveway near our house because the property belonged to her. She has also taken issue with my son and some of his friends being on the driveway. She has also said my son could not drive his gocart down the driveway.

    We have tried very hard to be accomodating to her. My son may ride his bike to access the road, but he never constantly rides up and down the driveway. The same is true for his gocart. We tell our guests not to park on the grass beside the driveway. My son and his friends very seldom play in the driveway. My husband even helps guests back out from our house into the shared driveway in order to avoid getting ruts in the grass beside the driveway. We have offered to help her maintain the grass on either side of the shared driveway but she declined. We have never planted ornamental plants on our side of the driveway in respect of her property.

    She has accused us of not respecting her rights as owner of the property. We have accused her of not respecting our easement rights. We have also told her that we have gone beyond what was necessary to accomodate her requests. Who is right?
  2. #2
    NC Aggie is offline Member
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    derwood95, unfortunately I believe your neighbor is justified in her position. It doesn't necessarily make for a good neighborly relationship, but by simply understanding the definition of "easement" you quickly realize that you only have "permission" or a right to "access" her property to gain access to your property from a public right of way. That means the driveway is only intended to allow you to access your property. It's not to be used as your own property, so your visitors can't park along the easement, your children can't ride up and down the driveway. Unfair as it may sound, I think that's why anyone who's buying a property in which an easement comes into play needs to understand the rights of the owner and individuals who have access to the easement.
  3. #3
    FarmerJ is offline Senior Member
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    Der there is one thing the other neighbor may be concerned about Re your child or someone using the easement for any purpose other than crossing from public road to your lot , Injury , it is not a far stretch to think the owner of the easement may be concerned about civil suit if your child is injured doing something other than using it to get to public road. When this current owner is gone maybe the next one will be more tolerant but for now it sounds like a better choice to keep your childs recreation when at home to your own property as well as not permitting guest to park anywhere but on your own property or the public road and walking in.
  4. #4
    drewguy is offline Member
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    To be clear, the entire 30-foot wide driveway is entirely on her property, but you have an easement? If so, she's justified (although it seems a bit difficult). If it's along your property, why not make a parking area on your property?

    Or consider purchasing half the driveway from her--then you can have your kids play on "your" half.
  5. #5
    derwood95 is offline Junior Member
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    When we first moved to our house in 2003, we offered to sell our easement rights to our neighbors. We wanted to put a driveway on our property, but we didn't want to lose the value of our easement rights altogether. They didn't want to buy our easement rights. We thought we had made them a fair offer, but they didn't want to negotiate at the time. We even sought legal counsel to make sure the offer was fair for both parties. They would have preferred us to simply put a driveway on our property and then we would have no need for the shared driveway thereby causing the easement value to basically drop to zero.

    For clarity, our guests have never parked on the grass next to the driveway. We have always told them not to do so, and they have gladly complied. Our son drives his gocart down the driveway to access our street. He sometimes drives his gocart to check the mail. He usually drives his gocart in our yard except when the grass is wet.

    We would like to sell our easement rights to her--that's right--sell. It seems she wants something for nothing, and she continues to make things uncomfortable. I guess she's still hoping we will go ahead and put a driveway on our property or move.

    We are considering offering to sell our easement rights again. We will again get various quotes on the costing of putting in a driveway on our property. We are planning again to seek legal counsel on a fair offer. The last time we did this was in 2003. Maybe she will change her mind and be willing to buy our easement rights, but I don't think so.
  6. #6
    NC Aggie is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by derwood95 View Post
    When we first moved to our house in 2003, we offered to sell our easement rights to our neighbors. We wanted to put a driveway on our property, but we didn't want to lose the value of our easement rights altogether. They didn't want to buy our easement rights. We thought we had made them a fair offer, but they didn't want to negotiate at the time. We even sought legal counsel to make sure the offer was fair for both parties. They would have preferred us to simply put a driveway on our property and then we would have no need for the shared driveway thereby causing the easement value to basically drop to zero.

    For clarity, our guests have never parked on the grass next to the driveway. We have always told them not to do so, and they have gladly complied. Our son drives his gocart down the driveway to access our street. He sometimes drives his gocart to check the mail. He usually drives his gocart in our yard except when the grass is wet.

    We would like to sell our easement rights to her--that's right--sell. It seems she wants something for nothing, and she continues to make things uncomfortable. I guess she's still hoping we will go ahead and put a driveway on our property or move.

    We are considering offering to sell our easement rights again. We will again get various quotes on the costing of putting in a driveway on our property. We are planning again to seek legal counsel on a fair offer. The last time we did this was in 2003. Maybe she will change her mind and be willing to buy our easement rights, but I don't think so.
    No offense, but what would the other property owner have to gain from BUYING your easement rights unless she was planning to sell her property in the near future. I don't think you ought to expect her to want to buy your easement rights. And if I'm clear, your property fronts public right of way? So why haven't you built your own driveway...I think that would eliminate any issues and if she doesn't want to BUY your easement rights, then you have 2 driveways you can use.
  7. #7
    justalayman is offline Senior Member
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    . Who is right?
    for the greater part, the neighbor is right. Ingress and egress is just that. No parking is allowed. The kids on bikes: that is hard to argue one way or the other. I use my drive to access my house on my bicycle but playing in the drive is another thing. Surely the go-carts have no business on the drive. It surely is not legal on the road he is driving to so he has no business using the drive for recreational purposes.


    She has accused us of not respecting her rights as owner of the property.
    based on what you have said, she is most likely correct in her accusation. You really need to understand that ingress and egress means just that. No recreational use, no parking, nothing other than using it to get from the public road to your property.
  8. #8
    drewguy is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by NC Aggie View Post
    No offense, but what would the other property owner have to gain from BUYING your easement rights unless she was planning to sell her property in the near future.
    She could extinguish the easement. Clearly she wishes the driveway were not there and she could then either remove the driveway or use it only for herself, which might mean narrowing it and planting things.

    More generally the servient estate owner is usually paid for the easement in the first place (or it reduces value) so extinguishing an easement presumably creates some value.

    OP's assessment seems likely: She'd rather extinguish the easement for free. Of course, it doesn't work that way. Even if OP builds his own driveway, he still has rights to use the easement per its terms. And he's right to proceed by "selling" the easement first, before he's sunk costs into a driveway.

    Sounds like an unfortunate neighbor situation.
  9. #9
    NC Aggie is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by drewguy View Post
    She could extinguish the easement. Clearly she wishes the driveway were not there and she could then either remove the driveway or use it only for herself, which might mean narrowing it and planting things.

    More generally the servient estate owner is usually paid for the easement in the first place (or it reduces value) so extinguishing an easement presumably creates some value.

    OP's assessment seems likely: She'd rather extinguish the easement for free. Of course, it doesn't work that way. Even if OP builds his own driveway, he still has rights to use the easement per its terms. And he's right to proceed by "selling" the easement first, before he's sunk costs into a driveway.

    Sounds like an unfortunate neighbor situation.
    Well that's definitely one perspective, but I'm looking at it from the viewpoint that she (other neighbor) doesn't necessarily have an issue with the OP using the driveway as intended but has issues with OP using the driveway for purposes not expressed or allowable in the easement. From this perspective, there's no imminent value to the other property owner to extinguish the easement. Just based on what the OP posted, I honestly haven't read anything unreasonable that the other property owner has said or done.
  10. #10
    derwood95 is offline Junior Member
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    My neighbor has never liked sharing a driveway with us. She has never been very friendly, and she has seemed to resent us using the driveway at all. When we first bought our house, she even hinted that the people who had looked at the house before said they would put in a driveway if they bought it. Maybe that's why they didn't buy our home because she wouldn't negotiate on the easement rights in the first place. Lesson learned.

    I'm not an attorney, but I know that our easement rights do have value. The actual monetary value is negotiable. We could also use this money to help offset some of the cost of putting in a driveway on our property.
  11. #11
    NC Aggie is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by derwood95 View Post
    My neighbor has never liked sharing a driveway with us. She has never been very friendly, and she has seemed to resent us using the driveway at all. When we first bought our house, she even hinted that the people who had looked at the house before said they would put in a driveway if they bought it. Maybe that's why they didn't buy our home because she wouldn't negotiate on the easement rights in the first place. Lesson learned.

    I'm not an attorney, but I know that our easement rights do have value. The actual monetary value is negotiable. We could also use this money to help offset some of the cost of putting in a driveway on our property.
    I'm not a real estate broker, but my job, on ocassions, requires me to deal with issues in which easements (different types) are often points of contention. So I recognize they're some value in the easement. However, the value is going to depend on the necessity and use and are definitely more valuable to a person/entity accessing the easement, then someone who owns the land in which an existing easement is already own. If there weren't an existing easement and you needed to obtain one, then there would be a significant value in this easement for both parties. But the value of extinguishing this EXISTING easement wouldn't be as significant for the other property owner. I just don't think an easement for a driveway that she uses as well would make a huge difference in property value.

    However, my point is that you shouldn't EXPECT her to buy your easement rights. You can make an offer and she has a right to accept or decline your offer. If you current easement isn't sufficient for what you desire, then you should considering installing your own driveway and it shouldn't be contigent on whether your neighbor buys your easement rights or not.
  12. #12
    derwood95 is offline Junior Member
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    [QUOTE=justalayman;. . . but playing in the drive is another thing. Surely the go-carts have no business on the drive. It surely is not legal on the road he is driving to so he has no business using the drive for recreational purposes.


    based on what you have said, she is most likely correct in her accusation. You really need to understand that ingress and egress means just that. No recreational use, no parking, nothing other than using it to get from the public road to your property.[/QUOTE]


    In ref. to the gocart comment, we live at the end of a dead-end road. Our son drives his gocart at the end of our road but only when supervised. He uses the driveway to get to it.

    O.K. No warm fuzzies needed. Our neighbor is right--we are not respecting her property. However, we would like to solve the problem. We have 3 kids. They are not going to camp out on the driveway and play all day every day but kids need to be kids.

    If she refuses to "buy" our easement rights, then what?
  13. #13
    justalayman is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by derwood95 View Post

    If she refuses to "buy" our easement rights, then what?
    you go on with life but respecting her rights. Simply use the easement for what it is intended for and find another area to do the activities you use the easement for now (other than ingress and egress). If you don't have her easement anymore, what will you do then? Well, do that now and all will be well.
  14. #14
    drewguy is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by derwood95 View Post

    If she refuses to "buy" our easement rights, then what?
    Take the money you would have spent on a new driveway and build a paved play area for cycling/parking or whatever.

    I agree with others that there's really no issue here: She's limiting your rights to strictly what is allowed. That's too bad for you, but it's within her rights, as unpleasant as that is.

    You've offered up a solution that she seems uninterested in, and that's also too bad. What it means is you're in a game of chicken--she's hoping to force to to build your own driveway and abandon the easement without paying you anything. You're hoping to build your own driveway and have her fully (or mostly) pay for it. If you were both rational there would be some middle amount of money that you could reach agreement on, and you'd both be better off. But you're both holding out to extract more from the other side so are stuck in a standoff. Who's going to blink first?
  15. #15
    NC Aggie is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by drewguy View Post
    Take the money you would have spent on a new driveway and build a paved play area for cycling/parking or whatever.

    I agree with others that there's really no issue here: She's limiting your rights to strictly what is allowed. That's too bad for you, but it's within her rights, as unpleasant as that is.

    You've offered up a solution that she seems uninterested in, and that's also too bad. What it means is you're in a game of chicken--she's hoping to force to to build your own driveway and abandon the easement without paying you anything. You're hoping to build your own driveway and have her fully (or mostly) pay for it. If you were both rational there would be some middle amount of money that you could reach agreement on, and you'd both be better off. But you're both holding out to extract more from the other side so are stuck in a standoff. Who's going to blink first?
    Maybe I'm missing something here, but how exactly is she hindering him from installing his own driveway. To imply she's not in agreement with the "solution" means she was part of the "problem" to begin with and I don't see that. Again, if he desires to have a more "functional" driveway, then he shouldn't expect the neighbor to pay for any of it.

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