Shared driveways are a fact of life for some residential properties. Some may be on residential properties developed generations ago, and some are incorporated into modern high-density developments. The responsibilities for shared driveways may be described in the development agreements for multi-use residential sites. Other owners may rely on driveway agreements to clarify the rights and obligations of each party. Coming to an agreement for an existing situation is more difficult than for a new development.
A right-of-way easement is typically the instrument that gives the owners the shared right to use the land as a driveway; it forms part of the title for the property. If the easement doesn't outline maintenance and upkeep responsibilities, the owners will have to reach an agreement on their own. An agreement for maintenance and upkeep may be required by the lender at the time of sale. The absence of such an agreement can complicate the sale of the house.
Gravel surfaces need replenishing from time to time, and the gravel tends to scatter in adjacent landscaped areas. Applying sealing coats to asphalt every two years can slow down its deterioration and repair any cracks and potholes. Weeds can be a nuisance for both gravel and asphalt. Concrete requires the least maintenance but needs to be cleaned and cracks repaired. Snow clearing is a regular maintenance task in the winter months in many parts of North America.
Sometimes it's necessary to spend money on maintenance tasks. The condition of the driveway affects the curb appeal of all the properties sharing the driveway. Ideally the costs are shared, but discussions on payments may not go smoothly. There may be disagreement between the parties about the scope of the work, or simply no acknowledgement that there is an obligation. Without a legal agreement, court is an option but not a practical one for most people.