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Hi. I live in a small neighborhood it is 2 streets with only 12 homes. Both streets are private and are maintained by the HOA. We have a sidewalk that spans the length of only three homes on 1 small section of the neighborhood. I now have a neighbor who is throwing a fit saying that I am blocking the sidewalk by parking in my driveway, causing her to have to walk around the tail end of my car. She is trying to get the HOA to fine me for doing this. Our HOA bylaws define Common area as including sidewalks and states ‘Every Lot Owner shall have a right and easement of enjoyment in and to the Common Area…’ am I in the wrong here? I mean, it’s my DRIVEWAY and she doesn’t even have to leave the pavement to walk around the tail end of my car. She is harassing the HOA board every few days with her complaint after being told to stop. I have not been able to find any kind of law that I am breaking and the HOA bylaws are so vague, it’s hard to determine whether I am breaking any of them either.
Asked on August 10, 2019 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 2 years ago | Contributor
An "easement" is the right to use property for some specific purpose--e.g. to walk on or through to get from point A to point B. An easement does not preclude other people's use of the property or space, so long as such other use does not itself preclude reasonable use by easement-holders. A car protruding onto a sidewalk could indeed be a violaiton of the easement, if it is so far onto it as to impact ordinary and common access through or use of the sidewalk, such as a stroller, children's bicycles (when they are of the age to ride on the sidewalk, not road), an elderly or disabled person's use of a walker, etc. So if the car is enough on the sidewalk that you could not use the sidewalk there for many of the common uses thereof, then you would be violating the easement.
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