Our Neighbors Want to Put Up a Fence On a Private, Shared Road. Can We Stop Them?

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‘We live in California on horse property. Our property line is in the middle of a private road which is shared with another property owner. There are additionally two other property owners who use the private road for ingress and egress and who have easements. Our property has two entrances/exits. The one at the bottom of the private road is the gate where we access our horses and parking garage. The other driveway gives us access to our house. Our neighbor has asked the City to give them a permit to have an electric gate placed over their side of the private road. If the City allows it, we will not be able to ride our horses out of our property unless we have a clicker with us and it could be potentially very dangerous as the gate would open toward us. There is not enough room to pass through without the gate being opened. There is no other way to get the horses our of our property other than through the private road. In addition, there are other neighbors in the area who have used the private road for many years to walk through and ride their bikes and horses. The private road does end where the other 2 neighbors live so it is almost like a cul de sac except their property is gated and owned by the conservatory of the area beyond the private road. People do walk there and ride there bikes there.

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Do we have a position to argue the fact that we do not want the gate? Is there an argument that by them having a half of a gate it would create over usage of our property as people, bikes and horses will simply try and go around their gate and try to cross on our side?’

You asked the right question by framing it in terms of whether you have an argument, because both sides probably have an argument in this circumstance.

In general, easement owners and the owners of the land that the easement is on have mutual obligations toward each other to keep their usage reasonable with respect to each other. Putting a gate across a private road is not necessarily unreasonable, particularly if all the parties who are entitled to use the road (easement owners as well as the owners of the burdened property) have the ability to open the gate.

However, your circumstances are somewhat unique, in that your problem is not so much the existence of the gate as how this particular gate will negatively impact your particular use. So yes, you do have an argument–but so does the neighbor who wants to put in the gate.

The best solution to this, of course, would be for you to get together with the neighbor(s) and work out a compromise that everyone can live with. Short of that, you may both be in for a potentially expensive argument.

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Author: House Attorney

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