Whitesburg, TN asked in Real Estate Law and Land Use & Zoning for Tennessee

Q: What can I do about my neighbors using my shared driveway with a vacant residence? Can I legally block access?

My driveway connects to two properties, my own and a vacant residence. The neighbor on the other side of the vacant residence uses the driveway to go and dump scrap metal, junk cars, car parts in the vacant properties backyard, supposedly with the owners permission. The owner has been deceased for 10 years and I’m having a hard time finding the person paying the property taxes of the vacant residence. There is no easement or right of way. He claims there is but after further investigation there isn’t. It also states in the papers from buying the house that there currently isn’t a sharing agreement between me and the vacant property and that if it were to become inhabited, an agreement would need to be made. The property hasn’t been maintained in years. The neighbors using the driveway refuse to help maintain the driveway and use it more than I do. I’ve asked them to stop and they insist they have an easement. I have no trespassing signs up but it doesn’t matter.

1 Lawyer Answer
Anthony M. Avery
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  • Real Estate Law Lawyer
  • Knoxville, TN
  • Licensed in Tennessee

A: Hire an attorney to search the titles of all properties involved, that is at least two. An easement needs to be recorded in the servient parcel's chain of title, not the dominant (the one that uses the ROW) parcel. Twenty years of use easily creates an easement by prescription. If no recorded easement, then if you block it off, user can sue you for a Declaratory Judgment, but he will need witnesses of many years of use.

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