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.
“My neighbor has an easement across my property to access his driveway to his home. I have lived on my property for 18 years and the main gate at the entrance to the easement has always remained closed (locked at night) except for ingress and egress. This is for safety and security as I live on a busy street and I do not want people driving onto my property. This neighbor bought his property a few years ago. Recently he decided that he didn’t like having to get in and out of his vehicle to open and close the gate so he just leaves it open all the time. If I want it closed I have to do it myself, and, of course I have to be here to know that he has left it open. I am afraid that when I am away someone might drive in. I have posted signs that say “keep the gate closed” but he refuses to do so. Last week he damaged two ceramic signs that I have near my gate and ripped my State Farm teddy bear that says “good neighbear” and hangs on the gate into the gully below. Is there anything I can do to get him to close the gate and to stop breaking my stuff? The sheriff suggested that lock the gate with a different lock but I know he can sue me if I stop him from accessing his property. Thanks.”The first thing I would suggest is to look at the document that created the easement, just in case it says anything about the gate. If it does, that might help convince your neighbor to keep it locked.
Question: If not, you could attempt to sue your neighbor for maintaining a nuisance (the unsafe condition caused by the unlocked gate), but that could be an expensive option. Perhaps if you subtly point out that he could be financially responsible for any damage that comes from leaving the gate open, that might motivate him to see things your way? Alternately, how much would it cost for you to split the expense of a gate that is self-closing?