Shared driveways can cause rifts
This is the second in a series of four about the most common disputes between Kiwi neighbours. reports.
Who would’ve thought that the humble driveway could cause so many disagreements between neighbours?
All seems fine and dandy… until one day you can’t reverse out of your garage because the neighbours have decided that 2pm on a Thursday is the perfect time for a party and their guests don’t feel like parking on the road.
Or, after years of wear and tear, your driveway is less drive and more hole but the other people who use it don’t want to pitch in for the repairs.
Yes, shared driveways have the potential to cause sky-high rifts between neighbours; we’ve probably heard the stories (if we haven’t had the misfortune of experiencing them ourselves). But due to a population boom and housing shortage in many parts of New Zealand, they’re increasingly becoming the new norm, so it’s important that we understand how we should appropriately use them.
Firstly, know your rights – and therefore the rights of your neighbours. These depend on your property’s title. If it has a vehicular right of way or easement, either you or the other party have the right to use the driveway to access their property.
If you live in a subdivision you probably have a share in the ‘‘access lot’’, and as an owner you have the right to pass and repass over it.
If you own a cross-leased property your driveway is classed as a ‘‘common area’’ which owners shouldn’t obstruct in any way. If a body corporate manages your property, there will be rules about the use of your driveway.
If you’re unlucky enough to experience driveway-related problems, your first port of call should always be the neighbour concerned. Drop in for a quick visit, pop a friendly letter in their letterbox or send them a quick private message via Neighbourly. Remember, a friendly and polite demeanour will always get you further than anger and hoitytoity-ness.
If talking doesn’t work, your next step depends on the type of situation you’re in. If you’re a tenant, talk to your landlord or property manager. If you live in an apartment, talk to your body corporate.
If you own your home, try mediation or seek legal advice (although both options cost and will potentially damage your relationship with your neighbour even further).
Driveways don’t get much attention until a problem crops up, so the best way to solve problems is to be proactive, do unto others as you’d have them do unto you, and avoid them happening in the first place.
Park in a way that doesn’t irritate or inconvenience anyone. If your flat has five cars, objectively look at your space and agree to park three of them on the road.
If your neighbour has a tricky corner to get around in order to reverse out of their garage, use your good neighbourly vibes and avoid forcing them to make a 13-point turn to get out.
Keep rubbish contained and ask visitors to park on the road. If you use the driveway, contribute to its maintenance. It’s not rocket science!
Being considerate of your neighbours is the key to getting on in high-density housing areas.