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Is it legal for my neighbour to build an entrance way leading into our mutual drive-way?

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The property next to ours was recently sold to a developer who has begun major renovations on the property, these include a 15 foot addition to the rear and will include a 2nd story (currently a bungalow) - we have a mutual driveway between our two homes with a garage belonging to us and space for the neighbours home to park (plans for a 1 car garage are in place). Since the beginning of the renovations, there have been many obstructions to the driveway, we have not been able to access the driveway to the rear of our property on many occasions. Right now the house is still a shell but there appear to be two locations that are designed as entrance ways to the home, they both lead directly into the mutual drive-way, is this legal? the entrances will require some kind of step to access ground level as they are around 3 feet from ground level. When attempting to speak with the developer we were met with threats of contacting lawyers to keep us from questioning his plans. Thanks for taking the time to read this. Regards, Nathan.


Hi Nathan;

Thank you for your question. Your mutual driveway is technically called an easement.  This easement gives your property access rights over a portion of your neighbour’s property, and your neighbour’s property over a portion of yours.  When put together the two strips of land create a “driveway” that you each can use all of.  The key to easements is that you cannot block or obstruct them.  This includes parking your vehicle on them for any prolonged period of time, building fences or, as in your example, potentially building onto them.

However, a common mistake folks make is to assume they know the exact location and dimensions of the easement.  If the developer next door is building an addition and second storey then they will have had to have a survey done, and had the City approve their plans.  This approval would (should) have taken the easement into account.  My suggestion would be to go to the City (building department) and ask them for a copy of the permits and the survey.

Alternatively, you can check our site at www.ProtectYourBoundaries.ca to see if we have an older survey of yours (or your neighbour’s property) for purchase that you can take the dimensions off.

Either way, make sure you are fully informed on the location and dimensions of the easement.  If after that you are sure that they are building the entrances into the easement, you should contact a lawyer that specializes in land-related issues.  They’ll be able to guide you through the process of asserting your rights.