Do I legally have to stop using existing driveway?

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Do I legally have to stop using existing driveway?

Our neighbors sold off a tract of land in 1976 and gave the new owners rights to use part of their driveway to access the property. We are the third owners of this property since 1998 and have continued to use the existing driveway as has been done by previous owners and the neighbors never said anything. The property that the driveway is now in it’s 4th ownership by the original owner’s granddaughter it has stayed in the family over the years. She is now asking us to cut in a new driveway after almost 21 years of use by us and a total of 43. We have never been told that we would ever have to do so or that we don’t have the right to use it. What are the laws on this?

Asked on February 7, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

If you have an actual easement to use the driveway on your or their deed, that easement cannot be taken away: it is as much a part of the property(ies) deed(s), and therefore as much part of the property(ies) as their boundaries or location.
But if there was no actual easement, just oral permission to use the driveway, that is not binding or enforceable: it can be taken away whenever the current owner wishes to take it away, regardless of how long you or your predecessors used the driveway. So if there is no easement, you can be forced to cut a new driveway.


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