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TJ, Esq.
TJ, Esq., Attorney
Category: Real Estate Law
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Experience:  JD, MBA
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Can I legally park on and/or drive across someone elses property Im

Resolved Question:

Can I legally park on and/or drive across someone else's property?

I'm looking at buying a house and piece of property in Jefferson County, Alabama. The home was built in 1945 and sits about 6 feet off, but on the right side of the surveyed property line. The driveway/parking place for the house actually runs across someone else's property and they've been doing it for over 50 years. The other piece of property is pie shaped (one tenth of an acre) and it butts up to the road, my surveyed/projected property line, and someone else's "private" driveway. There is a city/county drain grill and drain pipe on the pie shaped property that supports the driveway. Also my projected mailbox is on the other property/country easement line, next to the driveway. Please note the driveway crosses the other property and ends up on my projected property.


Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  TJ, Esq. replied 6 years ago.
Hello and thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you.

In general, the answer to your question is "no." You can't park on and drive across somebody property unless the owner has given you permission.

However, you've presented a potentially important fact: The prior owner has been doing it for 50 years. The first thing that you should do is check the title to see if there is an express easement that would allow you to drive on the property. If not, then you still have a strong argument in favor of an easement by prescription, which in a nutshell is an easement that a person acquires over time by continually using another person's property in a certain way. Of course, that would ultimately mean that you'd have to litigate the situation. In other words, if you were to buy the property and use the driveway, then the neighbor may one day order you to stop. You'll then have to file a quiet title lawsuit against the owner to prove that you have a prescriptive easement. That kind of lawsuit could cost you $20,000-$30,000 ... and you may not even win depending on the circumstances. If I were you, I'd stay away from that property unless there is already an express easement in place.

Have I satisfactorily addressed your concerns? If not, then feel free to let me know, as I will be happy to clarify my answer or help with your follow-up questions. In the meantime, please remember to click the green accept button so that I will receive credit and compensation for my time (doing so does not end our session). Positive feedback is always appreciated as well. Thank you and good luck!
Customer: replied 6 years ago.



I appreciate your feedback.


Could the other property owner sue me for damages because I used their property for that period of time before they requested that I cease and desist?


I have an out in case I'm told to stop, but I need to check with the city/county to see if they'll let me move the driveway. There is another easement on the other side of my projected property and also front piece of the the property butts up to the street (city/county easement). There is no existing driveway there and if approved I'd have to spend some money to get a driveway put in. I didn't want to go this route to save some money.


Also, could I pour a concrete slab (entry/exit point to/from the road) on the city/county easement (appears to be about 10 feet) in front of the other person's property (current driveway). That would allow my vehicles to easily/safely get on/off the driveway and on/off the road.



Expert:  TJ, Esq. replied 6 years ago.
Hi again.

Yes you could be sued for damages from the prior trespassing, but the neighbor would be unlikely to win unless he actually sustained some type of monetary harm. Especially considering the driveway is already there and has already been used by the prior owner of the house that you're going to purchase.

You'd only be able to pour concrete and create that new driveway on the city's easement if you are given permission. So, you should definitely ask the property owner and city first before making the purchase, and get that in the deal.

I hope that helps. Good luck, and please remember to click "accept."
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

TJG are you legally qualified/permitted to practice real estate law in Jefferson County, Alabama. I don't have a clue how that stuff works. Really I'm asking do I need to get a local lawyer for the right answer. I'm not indicating that I don't appreciate what you've provided.


break break


I hate to belabor the point, but could the monetary harm be that I didn't buy the land to use it as my driveway or pay for it's use as a driveway?


Note: The owner of the other pie slice of land is a tax assessor working in the county tax assessor's office. They picked up the small slice of land by paying the back taxes on it. Doesn't own any other pieces of land in the immediate area. Very impractical to do anyting on the land, but put up a fence on it--it's only a tenth of an acre in the shipe of a piece of pie. Others have tried to contact the individual to offer and buy the land, but without success--doesn't want to talk to anyone. Kinda weird.


I'll start contacting the right folks (city inspector, county road department, etc.) to get authority to move the driveway. They may not allow it, because a "blind" hill is to my left as I exit the driveway and another street exits out on to the road in front of the property we're looking to buy. I think they put the driveway in the place they have it for safety reasons.


Again, thanks! Lord be willing I'll be accepting your next answer. New to this type of service. It's neat...



Expert:  TJ, Esq. replied 6 years ago.
If you want a specific detailed plan of action that takes into account all the intricacies of your specific case, then yes you need to talk to a local attorney. All I can do is give you general information based on the little that you told me. What I told you is legally accurate, but I'm sure you realize that what I told you is pretty broad in nature. Just as you can't possibly get a detailed diagnosis of an illness from a doctor online (a doctor ultimately needs to see the patient in person), the same goes for legal advice. It's just something that needs to be done in person so the details can be reviewed. This forum just doesn't lend itself to a complete and detailed discussion and analysis of every legal issue. For that you'll need to see an attorney in person and pay by the hour.

In any event, no, I don't think the neighbor would have a realistic chance of winning an argument for damages based on the lost profit from selling or renting the property. If that's what the neighbor wants, then he'll need to say so. He can't just let you use the property for some period of time, and then claim damages after the fact.
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