Homeowner rights are in play during driveway work

MAILBAG

June 05, 2005

Four homes tucked behind my house are accessed by a long driveway/road that runs in between my house and the house next door to me. The driveway then breaks off into the four separate driveways of the four homes. I call them my backyard neighbors.

Three of my four "backyard" neighbors recently indicated that their driveways were going to be redone by the builder because of water puddling and other issues (cracking, dips, etc.) and that the main access road (the main driveway) also is going to be resurfaced.

My concern is that this access road runs close to the right side of my house where I spent more than $1,600 improving the grading to deal with water draining from the access road. My yard never would dry so a landscaper recontoured the grading to redirect the water. I am worried that if they start working on this access road that they will bring in heavy equipment and wreck the landscaping that I had done and also that putting in a new blacktop could make the runoff different from before and require me to do additional landscaping work. There is not a lot of yard between the right side of my house and the road, so I expect that they will likely be on my property if they start working.

What are my rights regarding them coming on my property when they tear up the old access road? Should I take pictures before, during and after they perform the work? Can I ask them to ensure that the drainage from the road does not affect my landscaping work and yard - maybe put a "lip" on each side of the road so the water runs all the way down to the street to the storm drain.

I realize this road may need to be repaired/resurfaced, but we just finally got our yard looking nice, and I do not want more landscaping bills.

Your neighbors' driveway easement is not on your land. Therefore, the contractor has no right to enter your land to repair or resurface the driveway. You should notify the contractor in advance that he has no permission to bring machinery onto your property or disturb your landscaping. If possible, you should stake your boundary line or ask the contractor to do so before any work starts.

You also can discuss with the contractor ways to ensure that drainage from the driveway doesn't harm your property. The contractor should do his work in a way that does not direct water onto your property. If the contractor damages your land, he can be held legally responsible.

It's a good idea to take pictures before the work begins and take photos of any disturbance or damage to your property. Perhaps you will want to tell your neighbors about your concerns. You can try to contact them in a friendly spirit and request that they make sure the contractor takes steps to avoid damaging your land.

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