Navigating shared driveway agreements can be daunting, particularly if you’re new to the concept.
Essentially, a shared driveway agreement is a legal document outlining the rights, responsibilities, and obligations of each property owner who shares the driveway.
But what exactly does such an agreement include? In this blog post, we’ll delve into the specifics of shared driveway agreements to help you understand this critical aspect of shared property ownership.
What Information Should be Included in a Shared Driveway Agreement?
A well-written shared driveway agreement should include the following information:
1. The Names of All Parties Involved
At the heart of any agreement are the parties it involves. A shared driveway agreement typically comprises the owners of properties sharing the driveway.
To ensure the agreement is enforceable, you will want to ensure all legal owners sign the agreement.
Determining the ownership of a property involved in a shared driveway can be done by conducting a title search, which involves examining public records to confirm legal ownership. Here are the steps to follow:
- Visit Your Local County Recorder, Clerk, Auditor, or Assessor’s Office: You can usually find the most current property ownership information by checking with these local government offices. They maintain public records related to property transactions.
- Online Search: Many counties now offer online resources to search for property information, including the owner’s name. This might be on the website of the county’s recorder, clerk, auditor, or assessor.
- Title Company or Real Estate Attorney: If you’re uncomfortable doing the research yourself or want to ensure you have all the correct information, you might hire a title company or legal professional to conduct the research for you.
- Property Tax Records: You can check property tax records to find out who is paying the taxes on the property, which is usually the property owner. This information is often available online.
- Purchase a Property Report: There are online services that, for a fee, will provide you with a detailed report on a property, including current and past owners, tax information, and more.
The agreement should identify all property owners to ensure the agreement is enforceable.
2. Legal Description of Property
Equally important is the legal description of each property involved in the agreement. This usually includes the property’s street address, legal lot number, and other relevant identifying details. These descriptions aid in distinguishing the properties and demarcating their boundaries.
3. Driveway Description and Diagram
Providing a detailed and legal description of the driveway and including pictures or a diagram can be very beneficial in a shared driveway agreement.
This helps clarify precisely which portion of the land the agreement pertains to and can help avoid disputes.
Here are some steps to make sure this is done correctly:
- Legal Description: You should include a detailed legal description of the property, specifically the shared driveway. This can often be found on the deed to your property or at your county recorder’s office. Depending on your location, the legal description may use the lot/block system, metes and bounds system, or the rectangular (government) survey system.
- Surveyor’s Assistance: If the legal description does not provide clear boundaries of the shared driveway, you will want to hire a professional land surveyor. They can accurately measure and describe the specific area of the driveway in question. The description and drawings provided by a surveyor can then be incorporated into the agreement.
- Visual Illustration: Including photographs, diagrams, or a professional survey map can be beneficial. Pictures can provide a real-world reference, while diagrams or a survey map can show the exact boundaries and measurements. Make sure any visual aids are clear, accurately represent the area, and are labeled with relevant information like compass directions, adjacent structures, or landmarks.
- Consult a Real Estate Attorney: This kind of agreement can have significant legal implications, so having the document drafted or reviewed by a real estate attorney can be beneficial. They can ensure that all descriptions and visual aids are legally sufficient and meet any local requirements.
4. Maintenance and Repair Responsibilities
Including information about maintenance is a critical part of a shared driveway agreement. Clear and agreed-upon terms can prevent potential disputes and misunderstandings. Here are some components you might want to include:
- Routine Maintenance: Define who is responsible for everyday tasks like snow removal, sweeping, and basic repairs. This could be divided equally between property owners, assigned to specific parties, or managed through a rotation schedule.
- Repairs and Upgrades: At some point, the driveway may need significant repairs or upgrades. Detail how these will be decided upon, who will be responsible for arranging the work, and how costs will be shared.
- Cost Sharing: Clearly state how costs for routine maintenance, repairs, and upgrades will be divided among the parties. This could be equally split, proportional to usage, or based on other factors agreed upon by the parties.
- Decision-Making Process: Specify how decisions about maintenance and repairs will be made. For instance, will all parties need to agree on major repairs or upgrades? How will disputes be resolved if parties can’t agree?
- Enforcement of Duties: Outline the remedies if one party fails to perform their agreed-upon maintenance duties or pay their share of costs. This could involve arbitration, mediation, or legal action.
- Records: Keep records of all maintenance, repairs, and costs. This can help resolve disputes about what has been done and who has paid for it.
- Alterations: Rules should be established for alterations to the shared driveway, including gaining consent from other owners.
5. Access Rights
Access rights are an essential part of a shared driveway agreement. Access rights outline how each party can use the shared driveway, and these rules can prevent potential conflicts among the parties involved.
Here are some components of access rights that should be included in the agreement:
- Right of Way: Each party should have the unimpeded right to access their property. The agreement should state that no party can block the shared driveway in a way that prevents others from using it. This includes parking vehicles or placing other obstructions.
- Guests and Service Vehicles: The agreement should clarify access rights for guests, delivery trucks, emergency vehicles, or service providers like landscapers or utility workers. It could state, for example, that parties must make reasonable accommodations for such situations.
- Times of Access: While it’s standard for all parties to have 24/7 access, there may be exceptions. If there are any restrictions on when the driveway can be used, these should be clearly stated.
- Usage Restrictions: The agreement could also outline any restrictions on use. For instance, it could specify that the driveway is only for residential use and not for commercial activity.
6. Dispute Resolution
Disputes are almost inevitable in any agreement, so it’s essential to have a mechanism to resolve them. This might involve a step-by-step process like negotiation, mediation, arbitration, or even litigation if necessary.
The issue of insurance also needs to be addressed in the agreement. It should specify who will carry insurance on the driveway, what types of coverage are necessary, and how claims, if any, will be handled.
8. Transfer of Ownership
In the event of a property sale or transfer, the agreement should outline what happens. Typically, it will include requirements for the new owner to agree to the terms of the shared driveway agreement, ensuring continuity and a smooth transition.
9. Term and Termination
The agreement should define its duration and specify the conditions under which it can be terminated. This prevents sudden disruptions or changes to the agreement, providing stability for all parties involved.
10. General Provisions
Finally, the agreement should include general provisions. These are standard legal clauses addressing various issues like the agreement’s interpretation, its terms’ enforcement, and the laws governing it.
Shared Driveway Example/Form
SHARED DRIVEWAY AGREEMENT
THIS SHARED DRIVEWAY AGREEMENT (the “Agreement”) is made this ____ day of, 20__.
(1) [Legal Name(s) of First Property Owner(s)], owner(s) of the property situated at [Legal Description of First Property] (“Party One”).
(2) [Legal Name(s) of Second Property Owner(s)], owner(s) of the property situated at [Legal Description of Second Property] (“Party Two”).
Collectively referred to as the “Parties.”
WHEREAS, the Parties are the owners of properties that share a common driveway (the “Driveway”) as described in Schedule A attached hereto;
NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the promises contained herein, the Parties agree as follows:
1. DESCRIPTION OF DRIVEWAY: The Driveway is legally described and illustrated in Schedule A attached hereto. Each Party acknowledges that this description accurately represents the shared Driveway.
2. MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR RESPONSIBILITIES: Each Party agrees to share the cost of routine maintenance, repairs, and upgrades of the Driveway as follows: [insert details of maintenance arrangement here].
3. ACCESS RIGHTS: Each Party shall have an unrestricted right of access to and egress from their respective property over the Driveway. No Party shall obstruct the Driveway in a manner that prevents its use by any other Party.
4. DISPUTE RESOLUTION: Any dispute arising out of this Agreement that cannot be resolved by mutual consent of the Parties shall be submitted to mediation or arbitration as agreed upon by the Parties.
5. INSURANCE: Each Party shall maintain adequate insurance coverage for their portion of the Driveway and shall handle claims in accordance with their respective insurance policies.
6. TRANSFER OF OWNERSHIP: Upon sale or other transfer of their property, each Party shall ensure the terms of this Agreement are binding on their successors and assigns.
7. TERM AND TERMINATION: This Agreement shall remain in effect until terminated by mutual consent of the Parties or in accordance with any termination clause agreed upon by the Parties.
8. GENERAL PROVISIONS: This Agreement shall be governed by and interpreted in accordance with the laws of the State of [State]. Each Party acknowledges they have read, understood, and agreed to the terms and conditions of this Agreement.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the Parties have executed this Agreement on the date first above written.
[Name of First Property Owner]
[Name of Second Property Owner]
Schedule A (Legal Description and Diagram of Driveway)
[Insert legal description, diagram, and/or photographs of shared driveway here]
(Note: This is a basic draft and should be customized to fit the specific needs of the Parties. It is advisable to consult with a lawyer before finalizing this Agreement.)
While the specifics of shared driveway agreements can vary depending on the unique circumstances of each case, the above elements are generally standard in most situations.
However, it’s always advisable to consult with a legal advisor when drafting such an agreement to ensure it comprehensively addresses all your needs and concerns.
After all, a well-drafted shared driveway agreement is crucial in maintaining peaceful co-existence among property owners and ensuring the smooth use and maintenance of the shared driveway.
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