In today’s fast-paced and crowded world, we understand the appeal of an isolated mountain home at the end of a private road. But don’t trade in your car for something with four-wheel drive just yet!
There can be many complications with living on a private road. Between easements and agreements and the requirements of your home loan, there’s a lot you need to have in place before finalizing your purchase. Luckily, your Beverly-Hanks REALTORⓇ is here to help steer you through the process.
Here are six important things you need to know about living on a private road.
What is a Private Road?
Private roads are roads “owned and maintained by a private individual, organization, or company rather than by a government.” You may be picturing rural country roads leading to a single ranch home, but homeowners associations within subdivisions, housing co-ops, and other groups of homeowners could also be responsible for maintaining private roads. Private roads, especially through subdivisions, have become increasingly common since the turn of the century.
What is an Easement?
An easement serves as a legal right of way that allows for the construction and use of a shared private road. When reviewing easements during your home purchase, it’s important to understand their scope. To whom does the easement give access to the road and who is responsible for maintaining it?
What Questions Should I Ask when Building a Private Shared Road?
Whether building a private road on raw land or reviewing existing easements, it’s important to know the answers to these questions:
- Who has access into the development and to the lot I want to buy? Does an existing road provide access?
- Is an existing road maintenance agreement in place, and if not, who maintains the road?
- How much will it cost each landowner to maintain the shared private road, and is there a reserve account dedicated to these needs?
- Do the existing residents adhere to the agreement as it is written, and what are the legal repercussions it they do not?
Who is Responsible for Private Road Maintenance?
Neighbors who share a private road share in the cost of its maintenance and repair. In most cases, neighbors share their responsibilities equitably without issue. However, across North Carolina, the absence of written private road maintenance agreements have cost individual property owners thousands of dollars to make their roads passable for both private vehicles and for school buses and emergency vehicles.
A lack of a written road maintenance agreement can also cause issues for buyers pursuing certain types of home loans.
What is a Road Maintenance Agreement?
At its core, a road maintenance agreement stipulates the details of shared road maintenance. In ideal cases, those stipulations are set up in advance by the developer and enforced by the homeowners association.
When no existing road maintenance agreement is in place, it is possible for home buyers to create one. However, all homeowners between the public road and the house being purchased must sign the new agreement. Any neighbor not interested in signing can present problems for the buyer.
Is a Road Maintenance Agreement Required by My Mortgage Loan?
Mortgage lenders vary in their requirements, and the condition of a private road maintenance agreement is no exception. All loans require your private road or street to be an all-weather surface. An all-weather surface is one on which emergency and typical passenger cars can pass at all times.
In addition, it’s possible that you may need a road maintenance agreement in order to be approved for a mortgage loan. Freddie Mac and FHA loans typically do not require a private road maintenance agreement. However, agreements are required for Fannie Mae and VA loans. USDA loans are determined on a case-by-case basis.
Switching mortgage products late in the process can halt your closing date or cost you more in closing costs. Don’t get caught off guard. Whatever loans you’re pursuing, your Beverly-Hanks Mortgage Services loan officer will be able to clarify the specific mortgage requirements for you.
Do You Still have Questions about Living on a Private Road?
All real estate is local. In order to make confident real estate decisions, we believe it is important for you to have timely and neighborhood-specific information. If you would like more information about living on a private road, our experts at Beverly-Hanks are here to help.
Contact us today to speak with a Beverly-Hanks real estate agent about buying homes and land on private roads in Western North Carolina.
34 Responses to “6 Important Things You Need to Know about Living on a Private Road”
Question. If a developers plans to retain ownership of a private road that provides the only ingress and egress to a condominium is the developer (NC) required by State law to have a maintenance agreement in place.
That’s a good question, Richard. If you’d like, we can connect you with a real estate professional who can help. Is this the best email to reach you?
I bought a property 2 years ago and road/Bridge is collapsing. County says not their problem. They gave previous owner right to construct the road
We live on a private hilly road owned by our HOA. A man purchased 17 acres below us and stated he wants to use our private road for access to his property which he plans on subdividing for houses. 1. Is this even legal? 2. What options are available to him? 3. What are OUR options since we purchased our home believing the road would remain private?
Hey, Bobbie – Those are great questions. I can put you in touch with one of our real estate experts, if you’d like. Is this the best email to reach you?
Need help with our 3 party shared rd.
Our private road does not have any written aggrements established. The neighbor that lives at the very end has taken it upon himself to grade the road on occasions. Although he does a poor job in his endeavors, some of the homeowners do not want him grading in front of their homes. Reason being; sometimes he does more harm than good. Cuts into their yards, damages yard borders etc. My question is since there is no written aggrement with him and the homeowners, does he have the “right” to grade in front of their homes? Even our county does not have the “right” to grade our road. Well they won’t grade it for us when it snows.
Hey, Derek, that’s an interesting question. There are some legalities here that we don’t feel confident speaking to. We recommend you reach out to the attorney who helped you purchase your home. Best of luck!
Are private road owners liable for costs should a person have an accident on their road
That’s a good question, Agnes, but unfortunately outside of our area of expertise. We recommend reaching out to an attorney or insurance provider. Good luck!
Hello. I live down a private road. In 1985 my family signed an agreement with the new property owners next door to allow them access to our private road for entry into their home. However, the wife and husband divorced and the woman next door is allowing people from the connected public road to walk through without my consent. She is breaking the agreement between her ex husband and my family that was sighed in 1985. Is there anything I can do to stop people from walking through? The county and police say is it civil. What can I do to prevent others who don’t live here from walking through? It is a dead end.
Hi, Vanessa – It sounds like you need to contact an attorney about this issue. Best of luck!
I along with about 15 other residents reside on a private road. My question is this, if I’m having a event, can my guests park along the anywhere along the road as long as they are not blocking a driveway
I would ask the Town Office.
My parents purchased a lot in a rural area in Volcano hawaii and built their home here in 1982. In 1986 the neighborhood voted on yearly fees for road maintenance. Since then, there has been no maintenance done on our street. Are we legally obligated to pay yearly road fees to a small group of neighbors who created an association? Can they put a lien on our property for not paying these fees?
I’m getting ready to go to the commissioner meeting about this issue I’m the representative for the park the roads have been torn up by advanced waste disposal company we have potholes that are bigger than some size of a back end of a truck I went to the Head director for roads for the county and they say they’re not liable so this is my issue the state has recommended Kirby’s Herbie Kirby’s for the trash advanced comes into the park and over the years has damaged our roads but they sound a contract with the county but the county says they’re not responsible for our roads so who is when we didn’t ask advanced to come into the park
Please help, our neighbor is placing logs along our driveway by our mailbox. It is hard to go through to our place. A big truck had a hard time to pass through. He is just doing this to aggregate us. Please give me advice
I live on a private road with 4 other homes. We have a road association. Recently my new neighbor told someone that they cannot come up the road to cross my property to access a pond (that they have deeded access to). The short cut across my land is much safer. I gave my permission for this fellow to cross my land 15 years ago. He is very respectful. Can my neighbor in my road association prevent someone from crossing my land.
I didn’t know that when you live on a private road, you and your neighbors would be the ones to split the fees for road maintenance. Well, I think this is the cost of living in exclusivity. It’s worth it in my opinion and this will be something I’ll consider when I buy a house someday.
Its worth it as long as all parties pull their financial weight to maintain the road. If they don’t then its an exclusive pain in the butt…
I purchased a plow for a private road. My neighbor just got rid of it or sold it without telling me. What legal recourse can I take since I cannot afford another plow.?
I loved it when you said that there can be many complications with living on a private road. Between easements and agreements and the requirements of your home loan, there’s a lot you need to have in place before finalizing your purchase. We are planning to put a driveway along our lawn going to the patio. I think an asphalt driveway would be great. I will be contacting paving contractors soon.
We bought a place 4 years ago now we have to maintain the road. Our Nabor that lives before us on the road keeps walking his dogs down on our roadway. His dogs are disrupted to our animals dogs,goats,ducks,ect the Shariff says there is nothing I can do but he has no rights to this road how can I put a stop to this?
I live on a private road that was deemed by the city in 2015 to not maintain private roads. The road was improperly graded when the city put sewer in back in 92. Over time a huge puddle has grown in front of my property and the neighbors. There is also a manhole cover under the puddle. The road has deteriorated because of the constant flooding and freezing. It wasn’t graded properly in the specific area. Can I sue the city to repair the damage caused by inadequate grade for drainage?
My townhome is in the middle of a development that now part has been sold off to another developer who has declared the first HALF of the road leading to my home as “private.” Now, yes, there is another long-way around to get to my home, but can they claim HALF a stretch of road and prohibit me from using it to get to my home that has an address on that road and I’ve been using for 10 years?
Can I give a legal name to my .2 mile driveway that only goes through our property?
What do you do about people speeding on a private road.When road needs repairs has big holes n no one will pitch in to fix the road.
I bought my house in 2003 the road leading to my house off a county road is private. I’m trying to get a loan and was asked for a copy of easement rights. Called the county clerk and was told there is nothing recorded . There is four other homes on this road we all use it as it’s the only way to our homes. My question is what can I do to record an easement?
Just bought a house on a privately maintain rd. Have lived here for years. A horse camp opened up across the main rd. Not on private rd. he has been sending horse riders down our road. There is 4 homes on this road. I don’t believe there is any agreement . Do horse riders have the right to walk down our road and mess it up more than we do. The horse camp guy acts like the road is national forest because the road is beside the national forest but vdot and county said it’s privately maintained.. the horse riders are widening our creek right where our bridge is with a tallon. A sinkhole has already formed over the tallon/road that goes across the creek . We have to cross the bridge to get to our house.other neighbors on this road don’t have to.the horse camp isn’t even on the private road. Also they are riding past our house with dogs that aren’t on leashes and our dogs have been attacked in our yard. Is that legal
What if you are buying land and the private road already has easements and other houses on it, but it is poorly maintained(very narrow and broken). Do the the property buyers have to fix the road by theirsleves or even at all? Or would the other houses have to fix or help fix said road?
Is there an insurance policy that an HOA can take out for a private road that also includes resurfacing and repairs ?
I live on a private road with two other homeowners that is a thoroughfare road connecting two county Roads with 14 homeowners. My question is who’s responsibility is it when the county roads are landlocked unless they use our road to get through which causes wear and tear on our road.
My parents bought a piece of property back in 1983 and they paid for the private road and we have nabors that have big trucks going In and out at all times and has damaged the road. How do I get them to fix it? My parents and I shouldn’t have to pay for the road again and again because they want to run on the road when it wet. My parents maintained the road for years, now the pot holes on it are very deep and can mess up an alignment or blow a tire. Their was agreement between my parents and the people who paid for the road and the agreement was verbally and my parents did there part but the new nabors have not asked us if there was an agreement on the road. So do I need to put it in writing and give it to them?
How do I make my nabors pay for the road thar they messed up. And there was a verbal agreement and they nabors didn’t ask to use the road and I don’t feel I should have to pay for it to be fixed please help