Neighbors on a shared private road disagreeing over a fence
Ilyce Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin
Question: I live in South Carolina and share a private road with my neighbor. The neighbor has the first few hundred feet, then owns a few more, then he owns a few more in the back. My neighbor has just informed me that they are considering putting up a fence. This fence would block my entry into my property. Can I legally prevent them from putting up a fence? Can I put up a fence on my stretch of road to prevent them from using my section and accessing the back portion of their land?
A: Disputes between neighbors. We have a lot of it, especially with so many people now working from home. Things that have never bothered you before can suddenly become so when you are at home during working hours.
The first question we have for you is, how do you generally get along with this neighbor? Sometimes neighbors do things without considering whether those actions will harm their neighbor. On the other hand, it could be a case study of a bad neighbor making a gesture simply out of spite.
To find out (unless you already know the answer from past interactions), you need to ask your neighbor why they decided to put up the fence. Is it a simple misunderstanding? Or is it the solution the neighbor chose to solve a completely different problem, like the deer eating the neighbour’s entire vegetable garden?
Misunderstandings between neighbors can sometimes get out of hand. So, knock on the door and ask them what they plan to do and how they plan to ensure the continued access you need to your property.
There are practical issues involved, and then there are legal issues. On the practical side, your neighbor has let you know that he is putting up a fence. Is he really putting up a fence that would restrict access, or is that a barrier that you could open at will, allowing you to continue using the road?
Once you’ve tried talking to your neighbor, figured out why they’re putting up the fence, and haven’t been able to convince them to respect your right of access to your property, you will likely need a juridical help.
Usually, private roads are governed by easement agreements. An easement gives a person or business the right to cross or use someone else’s property. A common example: The local utility company may have an easement allowing them to access their utility pole on someone’s private land.
In your case, we suspect that there is an easement giving you the right to continue to use the road. The easement probably gives your neighbor the use of the road as well. Sometimes private road agreements appear on subdivision plans. Or private road agreements appear on deeds of cession – when an owner sells the land and also creates the agreement on who could use the road.
While an easement agreement can contain a long description of the rights that everyone has to use the road, it can also state who has the obligation to maintain it or pay for the maintenance of the road. But Sam saw road deals in fairly short and straightforward deeds of surrender.
Either way, look for the document that created the highway agreement or described the easement. Examine it to see if your neighbor has the right to fence off part of the road or do anything that interferes with your ability to use the road. If your neighbor insists on depriving you of the use of the road but is not legally entitled to do so, your attorney may need to remind them of their obligation to keep the road open for your use.
Don’t worry if you can’t find an easement agreement between you and your neighbor for the use of the pavement. You may still have the right to use the road. Sometimes roads exist and have been in continuous use for many years. In these cases, the law may involve the continued use of the pavement by its existing users. In other circumstances, the way a pavement started and the way different properties existed may have created an easement right for the continued use of the pavement.
It can be complicated and confusing to determine easements and rights of use under the law, which is why you will want to consult with a lawyer who not only specializes in real estate, but has experience in it. specific area.
Contact Ilyce Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin through their website, BestMoneyMoves.com.