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Shared use driveway, owned by me - can I change legalities so neighbours have to contribute to its upkeep?

(16 Posts)
pigeonpooismynemesis Mon 22-Feb-16 15:57:23

My property has a long-ish drive which also provides access to a number of neighbours, who use it as you would any road outside your house (think many-point turns to get in/out of their front-garden parking, building projects with skips and heavy vehicles, visitors parking, etc). It looks as though a few neighbours may need to dig trenches for services imminently, too.

The driveway surface is in a state, and because I own it, it's my legal responsibility to fund its repair/resurfacing. This is likely to cost upwards of £15,000, which would massively deplete my savings, and which I resent a lot bit because it's used (and steadily trashed) by all of us - and ironically, more by my neighbours than me (my front drive is big enough for manoeuvring, skips, parking, etc, so I just go up and down the shared-use bit for access). A few neighbours have offered to contribute a little towards resurfacing, but one neighbour doesn't mind the scruffy rustic look and also isn't in a position to chip in – and so none of the others will. And none are legally obliged to anyway.

What I would like, and think would be fair, is if all households off the drive had to contribute a fair and proportional amount to some kind of fund, towards the drive's upkeep (even if that means changing the ownership to shared). Does that sound reasonable? Can this be set up? How would I go about it? Would changing everyone's deeds cost the same as resurfacing the bloody drive?! confused

I get on well with my neighbours, so once I have formulated a plan, can get them together to discuss it. I just need to know what that plan is (and if I can afford it)!

Thanks for any thoughts.

NewLife4Me Mon 22-Feb-16 16:03:48

I you own it how come they can use it?
it's only shared if all costs are shared.
If it's yours tell them they have to pay or not use it.

MummaGiles Mon 22-Feb-16 16:07:35

I presume they have an easement over the part owned by OP that gives them access to their properties. It would probably end up costing you more - it's massively to your advantage so you'd probably need to give them some sort of pay off to change the status quo, and pay for solicitors to advise you/draft documents, land registry applications etc, and your neighbours may want a contribution towards their legal costs too.

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Mon 22-Feb-16 16:11:01

I would find out if you can say no to service trenches? I don't know if you can or not. Having access is one thing but digging up your drive for cable tv is something else!

Otherwise I would just let it get into a state of disrepair and not bother fixing it. I use to live down a dirt track, private road so it wouldn't bother me at all.

pigeonpooismynemesis Mon 22-Feb-16 16:26:42

Thanks for the fast responses.

NewLife4Me, MummaGiles is right in that although I own it, my neighbours (four properties) have access over it. This is set out in our deeds, with very specific stipulations as to who should drive over which bits - in reality, it's driven over fairly freestyle, and parked on (which I've previously been advised shouldn't happen), had the odd skip on, contractor vehicle on, etc. And it's all the day-to-day many-point turns of residents' cars (including big 4x4 vehicles) which is contributing to churning it up.

I'm not paid anything for this access right.

MummaGiles, as I feared, the legal changes I'd like sound as though they could be bank-breaking. sad

It just seems so bloody unfair that it is in the state it's in more due to others than to me, and yet I have to foot the repair bill. (I did know this when I bought it with my ex years ago - I just didn't foresee all the building work that would go on and contribute to its deterioration, nor that I'd be paying for it on my own.)

WhoTheFuckIsSimon, I think I can say no to service trenches - or at least one of the ones that is proposed - but I get on with my neighbours; they're nice people and I like them. I don't want to make enemies on my doorstep by refusing them work that would improve their lives in their homes.

I have pretty much said I plan to leave the drive be, doing nothing to improve its surface unless it literally becomes impassable to vehicles. Maybe that's the plan then, and I start saving (more!).

Bugger.

pigeonpooismynemesis Mon 22-Feb-16 16:32:00

... unless (just had a thought), could I charge a couple of neighbours for their manoeuvring style?

Yes, it'll make me look ridiculously tight-arsed, but a couple of neighbours move out of their designated access paths in order to get in and out of their off-drive parking spaces. I'm sure there's a lot more vehicle activity/manoeuvring on there than was ever intended when the deeds were written.

Can I say, if you want to continue manoeuvring outside of your zone, you'll need to pay me £x? And then I stick this in a resurfacing fund ...

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Mon 22-Feb-16 16:32:45

Your neighbours might be nice but if they are nice they shouldn't expect to be able to dig your drive up without compensating you? What material is the drive and how are they planning to reinstate it?

I would be concerened that if it's tarmac even if they pay to have new tarmac put over the trench it will always be a weak spot which is likely to crack, sink, etc.

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Mon 22-Feb-16 16:41:48

Guess you could do. Could always threaten to penguin bollard the areas they shouldn't drive on.

pigeonpooismynemesis Mon 22-Feb-16 19:13:35

WhoTheFuckIsSimon, thanks. Unfortunately, putting bollards in would cause an obstruction for all. And I don't want to be "that neighbour" - overly officious, obstructive, my-lawyer-advises, etc. But the thing is, I think there's been a bit of piss-taking over the years (by some, not all), and it's continuing.

The two trenches are for non-essential work - optional routing of services. It would inconvenience neighbours if I said no, but not stop them living as such; just stop them taking certain plans forward.

That's a very good point about the Tarmac. I have said (regarding this trenching) that replacing like with like isn't good enough - replacing a deteriorating surface with an uncompacted version of the same is a recipe for accelerating wear. I think a sound Tarmac surface (like would have been there originally) would be better. A contractor has confirmed that alongside newly surfaced trenches, cracks will appear due to compaction, causing faster wear.

It's also opening up a can of worms in terms of legal agreements ("I'll get one off the internet" hmm) - right to have the services there, obligations for covering the cost of any deterioration due to the trenching.

Groan.

Collaborate Mon 22-Feb-16 23:32:41

You seem to be fairly clued up as to your rights.

You are under no obligation to resurface the road. You may simply do so if you wish, as may your neighbours.

If I were you I'd get quotes, approach them with a view to getting a contribution, and if they refuse, on the basis that they do not legally have to pay, similarly you do not have to agree to pipes being laid or cars and skips being parked.

SnuffleGruntSnorter Tue 23-Feb-16 00:06:52

You say you all get on well and would like to keep it that way, lovely to hear smile

I'd probably do as collaborate (apt name) mentioned. Get some quotes and then go tongue neighbours with them, suggest that as they will need to repair the parts damaged by the access trenches anyway now seems like a good time to repair the entire driveway. It costs £x, can we agree on a fair contribution to cover the damage caused?

SnuffleGruntSnorter Tue 23-Feb-16 00:07:30

To your neighbours. Please don't tongue your neighbours! My autocorrect has just gone nuts recently.

pigeonpooismynemesis Tue 23-Feb-16 13:36:43

Thanks for further posts.

I know I don't have to resurface the road. A couple of pot holes could do with being repaired, but otherwise it'll do. A couple of neighbours would like it spruced up though. I spoke to one last night (about one of the trenches), who said resurfacing would improve the value of all our homes. hmm Erm, well, his and others that directly front on to it yes, but not mine I don't think, which is tucked away. So I'm not going to fork out to help my neighbours add value to their properties!

I really like your bargaining idea, Collaborate. That does seem fair enough. And Snuffle, that's a good idea too, about treating any further potential works as an excuse to sort the whole thing out.

My partner (works in construction) says that services under a road surface increase its resurfacing cost from a basic of £x, because contractors have to mitigate against the chances of hitting pipework/cables and repairing such mistakes. So a neighbour just whacking in a cable across the drive (a) hastens the deterioration of the road surface, and (b) increases the future surfacing cost. So surely they have to contribute something, somehow?!

I've contacted a solicitor and asked for a consultation to thrash all this out.

Thanks for your advice.

And definitely no tonguing of neighbours! biscuit

HereIAm20 Tue 23-Feb-16 17:19:55

As it is your drive and they have a right of access over it should the road become so bad they can't exercise their right of access they would have a claim against you and if the lane was so bad that it caused damage to their vehicles whilst using that right you could become liable for damage to their vehicles so it is best not to leave it in that sort of state (if it gets that bad).

I have lived in that sort of set up but it was set up initially that the owner pays 50% upkeep and the rest of us (5 properties) paid the other 50% so 10% between us. The owner was a farmer so we would once a year buy about £250 hardcore (£50 per house) and then the farmer for his 50% contribution would provide the labour (ie. use one of his hands to fill in the holes). Maybe a suggestion along those lines?

Collaborate Tue 23-Feb-16 18:05:24

As it is your drive and they have a right of access over it should the road become so bad they can't exercise their right of access they would have a claim against you and if the lane was so bad that it caused damage to their vehicles whilst using that right you could become liable for damage to their vehicles so it is best not to leave it in that sort of state (if it gets that bad).

Sorry, but this isn't correct. OP is known as the servient owner, the others being the dominant owners.

OP is not responsible for keeping the road in good condition, or liable if not so kept. All owners have both an interest in the land, and the right to repair it if they wish.

OP - I'd be careful if I were you not to agree to them laying any further services. They may, over time, acquire a legal right to do so.

BlueStringPudding Mon 29-Feb-16 18:45:19

We have this clause in our property deeds - we are the original Purchasers' "successors in title" and benefit from the right of way over a driveway between our property and the road. It needs resurfacing, and we are expecting to pay the full costs as it only provides access to our property and no-one else uses it - except the general public to turn around as we are at the end of the village. What do your deeds actually say? Is there no mention at all of the maintenance?

"2 The land has the benefit of the following rights granted by but is
subject to the following rights reserved by a Conveyance thereof
dated xx xxxx 19xx made between (1) XXXX (Vendor) and (2)
xxxx and xxxx (Purchasers):-

"THE following rights and easements are included in the Conveyance
hereby made namely:-

(1) A right of way from time to time and at all times hereafter by
day or by night and for all purposes connected with the use and
enjoyment of the property hereby conveyed for the Purchasers their
successors in title and the owners and occupiers for the time
being of the property hereby conveyed or any part thereof and his
or their respective servants and licencees (in common with the
Vendor or other persons having a like right) with or without
vehicles of any description and with or without animals to and
from the property hereby conveyed or any part thereof and all or
any buildings thereon over and along the land coloured green on
the said plan subject to the payment of a fair proportion of the
expense of maintaining and keeping such accessway."

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