November 2014

Question

For a number of years we have lived beside a rented property. Normally we had no issues with the tenants who moved in and out; however, recently new tenants moved into the property who frequently block our access to a shared driveway. Out of frustration we recently had our land surveyed and we discovered we own 85 per cent of the driveway. Given this, what strategy should we adopt to ensure that they don’t block us anymore?

 

Answer

Shared driveway issues tend to become problematic if the parties concerned do not use them as intended. The usual arrangement is that the title to each property extends to the centre of the driveway. Each has a right of way over the part of the driveway on the adjoining property. All parts of the shared driveway and adjacent part of the public road, should be kept free of obstruction, including car parking, so that each party has vehicular access over the entire area which is subject to right of way.

Your situation is somewhat unusual as your title includes 85 per cent of the driveway. You should first check your deed map, if your surveyor has not already done so, to verify the precise position of the title boundary and the extent of each right of way over the respective property. Do not assume that the rights of way extend over the entire driveway as some driveways are subsequently widened. You should then approach your neighbours and explain the situation in a friendly and informal manner. Suggest that the driveway issue may not have been adequately clarified to them when they originally moved in and that you will also clarify matters with their landlord. Assure them that you will confirm the position by providing them with a copy of your deed map.

You should follow this action by providing the copy of the deed map attached to a dated note referring to the initial contact. You may find that by having explained the situation to them in a calm, reasonable and rational manner, followed by evidence of the map, your neighbours will take the matter more seriously.

You should avoid any action that would damage relationships and possibly lead you into litigation as this would be costly, drawn out, stressful and have an uncertain outcome. The course of action outlined is more likely to achieve the desired outcome, but in the event that it does not, and if you have no option but litigation, it will work in your favour as it would demonstrate to the court that you acted reasonably.

Patrick Shine is a Chartered Geomatics Surveyor, a Chartered Civil Engineer and a member of MediKids. scsi.ie