The Road Blog Part 2: Good Road Maintenance Agreements (or Laws) Make Good Neighbors
This blog is the second in a municipal law series on all things roads. Property issues involving roads are fact specific and require an analysis of the facts and circumstances of your situation. This blog addresses the issue of road maintenance where you know the road is a private road.
If you live on a private road, you may be familiar with the struggles to maintain that road. In some cases, neighbors will voluntarily agree to a written road maintenance agreement. In other instances, the agreement may be made verbally or by a neighborly handshake. But some neighbors on private roads can’t or won’t come to an agreement and disputes erupt.
A new law may help. Pennsylvania House Bill 523, now law at 36 P.S. §2735 (Effective December 6, 2021), amends the General Road Law to provide basic maintenance for a private roadway in the absence of an agreement between homeowners. This law requires homeowners to contribute to the maintenance and repair of a private road, in its current state, when it is used to access their properties. The law specifically provides for the right to bring a civil action to enforce it.
(a) A private road shall be opened, fenced and kept in repair by and at the expense of the property owner at whose request the private road was granted and laid out, and by the property owner’s heirs and assigns.
(b) Each property owner that shares a common benefit from a private road shall contribute in proportion to the amount of the private road utilized to the cost of maintaining the private road at the current level of improvement and shall have the right to bring a civil action to enforce the requirement of this section.
(c) This section shall not apply to a private road subject to a written maintenance agreement, a private road established by the Commonwealth or by a municipality entitled to the exception provided under 26 Pa.C.S. § 204(b)(9) (relating to eminent domain for private business prohibited) or to a private road within a common interest ownership community under 68 Pa.C.S. [sic*] (relating to real and personal property).
This is a tool that you can utilize if you are faced with the issue of neighbors who refuse to pitch in for maintenance of a private road. We will update you if and when there is litigation related to this law.