Private roads are nice to have, because they often have very little traffic. Plus, they can help you reach your property easier. However, a private road can be an inconvenience at times, especially when it comes to the maintenance of the road. So many people believe it is up to the town, city, or state to do road maintenance. However, the New Hampshire Supreme Court has ruled that the people who utilize the private road should contribute to the cost of maintaining the road.
Village Green Condominium Association vs. Hodges
Back in 2015, the case of the Village Green Condominium Association versus Hodges went to court. Without getting too technical, I am going to share part of that case. Basically, this case was about an access easement that benefitted three different apartment complexes. The easement went through land owned by a condo association. Everyone living within these buildings had the right to use the easement area.
The owner of the apartment buildings had the right to make improvements to this easement, as did the owner of the condo building. Small repairs may have been made over the years, but there came a time when significant repairs were required. It was at that time, the owner of the apartment buildings did not want to pay for any of the repairs. This was despite the fact all of the tenants were using the easement for many years.
The court ruled that the owner of the apartment buildings needed to pay for some of the costs.
Choquette vs. Roy, et. al.
Another case that year was Choquette versus Roy, et. al. In that case, a person wanted to maintain an easement to his property that crossed over his neighbor’s property. Years before, a landowner had subdivided 400 acres into multiple lots. The property of concern was 103 acres in size. To reach that lot, the owner needed to cross the easement access point on the neighboring property. And the neighbor did not want anyone to maintain or repair the easement.
There was a deed in place for the easement, but not on the maintenance of it. The court ruled that the neighbor could not prevent the person from maintaining and repairing the easement.
Not every case of who must contribute to the maintenance of a private road is going to be as cut and dry as these two cases were. But anyone who utilizes a private road must be prepared to help maintain that road at some point in time. I understand how road maintenance can be costly. This is why many laws are in place to protect people like yourself.
If you are questioning whether you are responsible for any maintenance being completed on a private road, contact my office today.