In a perfect world, everyone would have direct access to their home and unilateral control over what they do with their property. However, the reality is not always so simple.
One such instance of responsibility is where you grant your neighbor an easement through your property because they do not have roadside access to their own property.
A question that often comes up, is who is required to maintain that easement?
What the default rule says
If you don’t have a written agreement detailing any responsibilities, the dominant estate owner (the grantee who holds the easement ) has the responsibility of maintaining the easement at their own cost and without interference from the servient estate owner (the grantor of the easement).
This means that the holder of an easement for a shared driveway or path through another property must ensure that the easement remains usable and does not become overgrown or otherwise damaged.
However, there may be situations in which this default rule is overruled or modified in some way. For example, if the grantor of an easement explicitly states that they will be responsible for maintaining the easement, then this will take precedence over any general rules regarding maintenance obligations.
Contractual agreements can change the rules
For the smart property owner, getting any agreements in writing is crucial to preventing future boundary disputes. Ensure that it outlines what falls under maintenance for the responsible party and what costs are to be shared. This will help you avoid conflicts down the road.
Learning about your legal rights, in this case, will help protect both you and your property from ramifications that could come about as a result of unclear expectations.