Buying a new house is, no doubt, a dream come true for many Ontarians. People get easily carried away with the exquisitely luxurious interior of the house and top-class amenities. Amidst all the shimmering, they often miss checking on the existing easement on the property.
The most common reason for property easement in Ontario is the shared driveways. Do you know about shared driveway rules in Ontario?
You may first think a shared driveway is not such a big deal. But in reality, it can restrict your use of the property to a great extent. And in worst-case scenarios, it can bring a lot of legal complications, too. That being said, finding a property with zero flaws these days is next to finding a unicorn.
Given the risks involved, you need to understand how easements work and what laws drive them. Therefore, the experts from Surex will discuss all of the intricate nuances about shared driveway laws Ontario homeowners need to know about. So, make sure you scroll down to the end and make the most out of it.
What’s a mutual driveway in Ontario?
A shared driveway (also referred to as a mutual driveway) is the one shared by two or more homeowners. A shared driveway falls under the category of property easement provisioned under the property laws to facilitate privacy, amenity, independence, and security to shared driveway users.
A shared driveway can many times lead to unpleasant neighbour conflicts due to confusion over the property line. Whether shovelling the snow, keeping the driveway clean, or maintenance, taking care of a shared driveway is the mutual responsibility of all the users. And naturally, the dispute arises when one party fails to keep up with their end of the bargain.
However, disputes are highly unlikely to arise if you have an understanding neighbour and a sufficiently large driveway.
How do you get a mutual driveway in Ontario?
It is recommended to have created an easement for the property to keep any disputes at bay, i.e., the driveway in the instant case. Abide by the shared driveway laws Ontario, and get a legal mutual driveway:
- The first way is by deed. The common owner of both properties can register the driveway against the title.
- Another way is by mutual agreement. The neighbours can create alongside easements for mutual use of the driveway. The agreement shall be registered against the title.
- And if none of the above works, a court order confirming the development of prescriptive rights due to long-term usage can also help you fairly divide a mutual driveway. The court order shall be registered against the title.
Either way, an easement is the only solution for you to have a mutual driveway. A right-of-way easement can save you from troubles associated with using a mutual driveway.
What is an easement?
An easement is a legal right enjoyed by a dominant tenement (the property availing the easement) over a servient tenement (the property on which the easement is laid).
In short, a party having an easement over your property (the driveway in the instant case) can use it by right without having possession of the same. That is, it allows you to enter and use another property without permission for non-possessory interests.
How is an easement created?
In Ontario, there are four ways to create an easement. The same are listed hereunder:
When an owner of property grants the privilege of using it to other property owners for a specific and non-possessory purpose, it is called an “express grant.” Here, the expressly granted right is the main essence of the easement. The express grant has to be registered in the Land Registry Office on the title.
Easement by prescription
When the law grants permission to someone to use someone else’s property looking to its obvious use and open acquisition without the owner’s permission over an established minimum time, it is called easement by prescription. In Ontario, this period is 20 years.
Easement by implication
When an easement is the only solution to surrounding circumstances, i.e., when the easement becomes necessary, a legal doctrine can provide easement by implication. The easement by implication is very common for property owners having adjacent lands.
Easement by statute
Easement by statute or easement in gross is when public services in Ontario create easements to access their equipment or facilities. It does not require defining a dominant tenement. Generally, such easements are of temporary nature and enable local administration (such as the municipality) to enter private properties to maintain public utilities.
Termination of an easement
There are three legal ways of terminating an easement. The same is listed hereunder:
Just like an easement is created expressly, it can also be terminated expressly. That is when the dominant tenement releases and extinguishes the easement through a legal deed. The dominant tenement can also transfer the easement to the servient tenement to extinguish it. The bottom line is that the servient tenement ends up owning the easement and servient property.
If the same person becomes the owner of servient and dominant property, there will be no need for an easement to exist. Therefore, when either the servient or dominant property owner acquires the other property, the easement merges with the servient property and ends. In other words, one can’t practically have an easement over one’s property.
Cessation of purpose
It is when the parties who created the easement find an alternative, and the easement’s purpose ceases. However, it is pertinent to mention here that non-use of an easement is not substantial evidence for the cessation of its purpose.
Not knowing your rights and legal provisions for usage and maintenance of a shared driveway can lead to some severe headaches, especially if your neighbours aren’t easy to get along with. Nonetheless, it is always recommended to deal with any such issue with respect and reasonability.
However, if your neighbour becomes aggressive or if things seem out of control, you can pursue legal action against them since now you know all the legalities involved with shared driveways.