How to use my neighbour's driveway if they're unwilling?
February 26, 2007 3:24 PM   Subscribe

A large truck needs to get into my backyard, but my driveway is too small. I don't get along with my neighbour. In the event he refuses, what are my options?

A large truck needs to get into my backyard to conduct some drilling for some testing. However, my driveway sits right beside a hill and is much too small for the very large truck. However, there is access to my backyard from my neighbour's driveway, but we don't really get along well (that's an understatement). If he refuses to allow the truck to use his driveway, what are my options? Are there any laws that allow for reasonable access in this manner?
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (15 answers total)
As far as I know, unless his land has been relied upon in the past as a route for entry to your land, which doesn't seem to be the case, you are out of luck.

Also, you should always tell us your jurisdiction (in your case, province) when posting a legal question.
posted by Dasein at 3:39 PM on February 26, 2007

No, there are not (usually). Ask nicely.
posted by yesno at 3:39 PM on February 26, 2007

Offer him money.
posted by lovejones at 3:40 PM on February 26, 2007

If it's for your own purposes, and he refuses, I think you're out of luck. But I would think this depends on the nature of the testing. If the city is telling you they need access to your backyard, it's up to them to find their way in, and I'm sure they'll figure out a way to persuade your neighbor.

You could always try compensating him for the disturbance. Ask him his price.
posted by PercussivePaul at 3:40 PM on February 26, 2007

Is it impossible to make nice with your neighbor? Maybe go over and explain the need, and take along a nice bottle of wine (or some other gift to ply him with...) Or just bribe him with money.

If that falls short you can go in commando style and have the truck drive around his lawn when hes not home. Of course that could constitute some sort of trespass and make matters worse - particularly if the truck messes up the guy's yard.

So is there absolutely no way to get the truck in your backyard then? Often you can take down chain link fences and remove other obstacles, it's a little extreme, but if thats what it comes too...
posted by wfrgms at 3:43 PM on February 26, 2007

If that falls short you can go in commando style and have the truck drive around his lawn when hes not home. Of course that could constitute some sort of trespass and make matters worse - particularly if the truck messes up the guy's yard.

I'd sue the living fuck out of someone if they did this. It's totally illegal, and drill rigs are big enough that they'll mess some stuff up, no question.
posted by LionIndex at 4:15 PM on February 26, 2007

All you can do is ask the neighbor. All he can say is no. Offer him $50 for the use of his driveway to access your back yard. Otherwise, I think you are SOL.
posted by JayRwv at 4:48 PM on February 26, 2007

I'd like to re-iterate what LionIndex says about not using it anyhow, we had a large cement truck do this to us, and luckily a neighbor took pictures and wrote down the license plate.

While there is still one suit pending for this (we have a joint driveway which was damaged and the neighbor is trying to get as much as she can), they paid both me and my insurance company.

If they had asked us, we would have needed to say no due to the houses being so close together (our exterior walls are on the driveway for both houses), but in other cases, I think something could have been worked out. I think that's your best bet, talk to the neighbor and see what can be done, rather than risk being sued for it later.
posted by ugf at 5:14 PM on February 26, 2007

Don't offer him $50.

Guarantee him that any damage done to his lawn/yard/driveway/property by driving heavy machinery over it will be made right. If you two are not on the best of terms, take lots of pictures before any work commences to document existing conditions. Talk to your heavy machinery guy -- maybe promise a little extra if he can promise to not damage the guy's lawn (or fix it on his dime), or maybe provide a bonus at the end of the job if no repair work needs to be done. (Either way, you will spend the extra money to guarantee a careful job or to repair a typical job, but that is the price of doing the work right)
posted by misterbrandt at 5:24 PM on February 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

It is not unheard of to pay someone for a limited term easement. This is done all of the time in the construction and utility business. What is it worth to you?

I'm not sure what testing is being done or how deep they have to drill but there are more portable devices out there. If the company doesn't have them then check other companies. But this may also cost you more money. Do the math and see what method is more financially viable.
posted by JJ86 at 5:33 PM on February 26, 2007

A random thought--is there a project manager or official from whatever company is doing the testing that could negotiate a temporary easement on your behalf? If your relationship with the neighbour sucks, perhaps having a relatively neutral third party like the contractor doing the asking will make things easier.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:50 PM on February 26, 2007

jacquilynne's suggestion is very practical. You really don't want to acknowledge the friction with your neighbour at all. You want an impartial professional negotiation with all external considerations completely minimized.

On the other hand, it is easier to ask forgiveness than permission. That mostly applies only if you can get in and out without them knowing - until you thank them afterward, or another neighbour asks "what was that big truck", or whatever. If you get caught in process - with your pants down, so to speak - the neighbour might block the drill truck in your backyard, or something, and there will be nothing you can do about it.

I'd sue the living fuck out of someone if they did this. It's totally illegal, and drill rigs are big enough that they'll mess some stuff up, no question.

But what are you going to sue for? Compensatory damages, and that's it, really. ugf can elaborate, and perhaps there is some room for punitive damages of some kind, but if you need to do the work..

Well actually, what is need.. It seems very unlikely to me that you need to have some huge drill truck to do whatever it is they will do. It is very likely that there is some relatively simple, but perhaps somewhat more expensive, alternate method.
posted by Chuckles at 6:49 PM on February 26, 2007

I think having a truck go in without permission is a singularly terrible idea, unless you want to dramatically escalate the level of hostility. He's going to find out and he's going to be justifiably pissed. And offering a what amounts to a bribe ahead of time will probably only serve to irritate the guy.

If the work is truly necessary and not just something you really want and if it can't be done using other methods or equipment, I think jacquilynne has the best idea with having a contractor or the involved foreman attempt to negotiate. Your neighbor is probably less likely to be openly rude to someone he doesn't know and doesn't have a beef with. Also, that party should clearly explain that any damage will be fixed/repaired/replaced/paid for promptly and without fuss.

To be honest a much better plan for the long term is to cultivate a civil relationship with your neighbor, even if you'll never be best buddies. Maybe this won't help with the work you want done today but it might help with something you really need tomorrow.
posted by 6550 at 7:09 PM on February 26, 2007

Compensatory damages
....can be quite a lot of money. Don't send the truck in without permission, unless you've got lots of time & money to burn.

Depending on how close you get to their house, if you leave so much as a treadmark unasked you'll just be begging to be sued every time their basement leaks for the next fifty years. Hell, they might even try to sue you so that you pay to have every single utility they can think of come out and "assess the damage". On your dime. Repeatedly.

...and then they'll accidentally run over your mailbox every month, like clockwork, for as long as you live in the house. Any time you find yourself super-busy and aggravated, they'll sue you just for the fun of watching you uproot your busy life in order to avoid a summary judgment against you.

Seriously, do not try to sneak in. They can, and probably will, make your life a living hell for as long as you live there.
posted by aramaic at 7:18 PM on February 26, 2007

Thirding jacquilynne's suggestion. Excellent solution.
posted by amyms at 7:30 PM on February 26, 2007

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