The Essential Elements of a Shared Driveway Agreement
Shared driveways and roadways are popular in our market area (Madeline Island and Bayfield, Wisconsin) for a number of reasons. Fewer driveways along a stretch of county or town road means a more pristine appearance to a residential neighborhood. With fewer breaches in the road, inbound and outbound traffic from multiple dwellings are funneled into one outlet.
Fewer trees are cut when every home doesn't require its own driveway. There is less damage to wildlife habitat and there are fewer culverts buried alongside the roadway at driveway outlets.
The flip side of these benefits is about the potential for disputes between neighbors whenever there are shared (common) elements in a development. A shared well might be an example.
In order to ensure that a shared driveway agreement protects the property owners whose dwellings are served by that shared driveway, several basic essential elements are required. [Let me preface this list with the disclaimer that I am not an attorney. Every situation involving an agreement governing the shared use of property is different. Please consult an attorney to have any such agreement drafted.] :
- A description of the shared driveway or the shared portion of an existing driveway (typically a surveyor's description)
- A provision which deals with the ongoing maintenance (snow removal, gravel, etc.) and future repair of the shared roadway as needed, including a description of how future expenses shall be apportioned among the participating property owners.
- A joint and mutual agreement that the parties shall not interfere with or obstruct each other's ingress or egress over the shared roadway (access to and from an owner's homesite)
- The provision that the driveway agreement is binding upon successors, heirs and assignees
- A dispute resolution provision, sometimes involving Arbitration
The shared driveway agreement must be properly executed and recorded at the land records office in the County where the affected property is located. The shared driveway agreement becomes part of the conveyance (Deed) when the property of one or the other cooperating Party is sold or otherwise transferred. A shared driveway agreement should always show up in a Title Report on any of the participating parties to that agreement.
There's an old saying, "good fences make good neighbors". A properly-drafted shared driveway agreement should make things better for cooperating property owners, in that it avoids future misunderstandings and conflicts.