An easement is a property right that allows a person to use the property of another. An easement can give you the right to use someone else’s property, or give someone else the right to use yours. The question is who needs to maintain a driveway that is on your property, but is used by your neighbor? A new law, effective October 1, 2014, Public Act. No. 14-67 will now require those who use easements to pay the costs associated with the maintenance and repair of the easement. What constitutes maintenance or repair is not explicitly defined in the law, although the law does state that snow removal is included as a maintenance cost.
If multiple people use the easement, then the costs associated with maintenance and repair are to be divided on the basis of the proportionality of use among all easement users. A single person, however, may be responsible for the costs associated with the easement repair if that person directly or indirectly caused damage to the easement. Failure to pay for these repairs gives the other easement users a cause of action against the user who caused the damage.
The law applies to “private appurtenant easements.” These types of easements remain associated with the property, even after it is sold or another person takes possession. The parties, however, do have the ability to enter into agreements that could supersede the law’s provisions. The law firm of Brown, Paindiris & Scott has experienced real estate attorneys that can assist you with questions on how this law may impact you as an easement user or owner of a property with an easement.