Do I Have A Legal Right To Use My Neighbor’s Driveway?

Note: The DearEsq free 'ask a lawyer' site is offered as a free informational service to the public and is not intended as legal advice. Laws vary from state-to-state, and in addition every situation is unique, and relevant facts may not be known. The answer to the question posed below may not apply to in your state or to your situation. For legal advice in your state and your situation you should consult with an attorney in your state who is familiar with the rules and laws in your state.

I have a detached home. I have access to my property on one side. On the other side of my house is the driveway of a neighbor property. He will not allow me to make any repairs to my home from his driveway. He has locked his driveway. I can’t put up gutters on that side of the house nor can I fix my stairs. Is this truly legal? How can I gain access legally. The other thing he is not the homeowner. Talking to him is of no use. Can you tell what can be done and, If I need a lawyer, what type of lawyer? Thank you!

Well, the first question is where is the property line? You may think you know, but it’s not unusual for property lines to be someplace different from where you think they are. The only way to be absolutely certain is to hire a surveyor to stake it out (though that can be a little expensive). Obviously, if you own the property, you can use it.

Assuming the driveway does belong to the neighboring property, the next question is do you have any legal right to use it? Unless you have a written easement or a long history of use, the answer is probably no.

So then the correct person to talk to about getting permission would be the owner of the property. If your neighbor only rents, it’s not his decision. You may be able to work something out with the owner to give you permission, in which case the tenant would have to comply.

Finally, you’re asking the right question about what kind of attorney to speak with. An attorney who practices real estate law will be able to help you through any of the above options, and to explore the particulars of your situation which may uncover others.