If a rIght of way is damaged by one user, who is obligated to pay for the repair?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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If a rIght of way is damaged by one user, who is obligated to pay for the repair?

A shared driveway right of way was granted in the original property deed. Maintenance also specified in deed shared among 4 homes 25% each. However, one person drove heavy equipment for major landscaping work over the driveway, breaking it, also they moved an adjoining retaining wall on their property exposing the foundation of the driveway to weathering it would not have otherwise experienced. Was told by this person that they would repair the damage. As you might expect or I would not be writing they have not done so 5 years. Repeated attempts to get them to do the repairs, and even supplied with an estimate from a contractor. No action. They want 50% of cost to repair and the cost they are using is undocumented (i.e. no written estimate provided is nearly 3x the estimate I provided).

What financial obligation do I have – if any ?


Asked on August 15, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If you had acted more promptly, you might have been able to bring a legal action to force them to pay most or all of the cost, since most or all of the damage was due to their negligent (careless) or intentional actions in running heavy equipment on the right of way, moving the retaining wall, etc. As a general matter, the person responsible for damaging property has to pay for it.
But you may have waited to long. You write that the damage occured 5 years ago. In your state, you have to take legal action for property damage within 2 years; and you have to sue to enforce an oral (unwritten) agreement (like an agreement to fix the problem) within 4 years. Once those time periods pass, it's too late to take legal action, which means you can't enforce your rights. You should consult with a local attorney *right away* to see if there are any grounds for still holding them liable; if not, you are probably limited to enforcing the terms of the deed that require 25% contributions from each homeowner.

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