If my wife and I share a driveway with our neighbor, what are his rights to use it?

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If my wife and I share a driveway with our neighbor, what are his rights to use it?

The entire driveway is completely on our property and we simply allow them to use it since he had a parking area built in his backyard once we gave him permission to use the driveway. A few years ago roughly 7 to 9, he offered to pay to have the driveway paved since it was only stone and I was remodeling our house so had no spare money to help. This winter we decided to fence our entire property, thus making the driveway only for our home. Since the driveway is entirely on our property can we do this? What about him having it paved? I’m thinking since it’s our land we can do whatever we choose with it. Also, no legal or written agreement was ever drafted.

Asked on February 12, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

IF you hadn't allowed him to pave and maintain the driveway, you could clearly cut off his access so long as it would be possible (not necessarily easy or desirable, but possible) for him to build his own driveway or access the property some other way. (When one property is "landlocked" and *must* be accessed via another's property, the courts will often grant the landlocked neighbor an easement, or right of access, by prescription, or necessity.) However, in allowing him to pave and maintain a driveway which he was using, you most likely entered into an implied (valid and  shown by conduct, not explicitly written out) contract under which he would pave the driveway (and do some maintenance) in exchange for the right to use it. Since he has, by what you write, lived up to his obligations, you would most likely be obligated to allow him continued access; were you to do what you propose, if he brought legal action, it is likely a court would require you to take down the fence. Because of how important this evidently is to you, you are advised to consult in person with an attorney to discuss all the specifics of your situation in detail, but be ready for bad news.


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