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 live out in the country and a county road runs by my house. Right across the road from my property are my and one neighbor’s mailboxes. They turn come from their home and turn around in my driveway when they get their mail because it is more convenient for them to do that. Recently, they accused me of some things and I told them to not come on my property anymore. They continue to turn around in my driveway. I figured that because the county road runs in front of my home, that the county has a shoulder easement across part of my driveway and that is what the neighbors are using, but lately I noticed the neighbors are fully pulling into my driveway to turn around. It is disturbing to my family that they are doing this especially to my six-year old autistic son because they are very hostile towards us. Is there some way I can stop them from coming onto our property?”Turning around in a driveway is a pretty short-term use of your property. Therefore, unless you want to keep surveillance going all the time, your most realistic method of keeping people off is a fence or gate.
Question: The question, then, is does your neighbor have some sort of right to prevent you from putting up a gate? Assuming that there is nothing formal recorded against the properties (and there might be; you need to check all the records going back to when the property was subdivided), the most likely source of such a right would be a prescriptive easement.Prescriptive easements are rights that come into existence when someone uses someone else’s property for a period of time without permission. The period of time varies from state to state, and the details of the other requirements do, too, but even without getting into that, your defense against such an argument (if your neighbor brought it) would probably be that you had given permission for the use earlier. That will be a question of fact for a judge or jury to decide, if it comes to that.
By the way, you probably don’t want it to come to that, unless you’ve got thousands of dollars for attorney fees burning a hole in your pocket.
Getting back to the idea of a gate, before you spend the money to build one you should make sure that you’re allowed to. Check your local zoning and building codes, and also make sure that no public use-especially by the fire department-is required. The last thing you need is for someone’s house (possibly yours) to burn down because the fire truck got stuck at your turn-around.