Real Estate

Can we ask cottage neighbours to stop using a roadway on our property?

Snowy winter road Photo by Inna Dodor/Shutterstock

When cottage neighbours have been using a roadway on your own property, can they be asked to stop? If money has changed hands, do they have any legal rights?

No, accepting a few bucks for upkeep doesn’t mean you’ve given your neighbours a legal right to use the road in perpetuity.

Can they be stopped legally? Assuming they don’t have a deeded right to use the road, that depends on a couple of things. How long have they been driving down your road? If it’s been 20 years or more, then they can apply for a “prescriptive easement,” which means since they’ve been allowed to use the road for that length of time, they may have a claim to continue using it. But if it’s been less time, then the question is “Do these people have any other way to get to their property?” If they have another option for road access—they could build through their own property, or use an unopened road allowance, for example—then the law is on your side. The access doesn’t have to be easy or cheap, it just has to be available. But if there is no other way to get there from here, then the law is on their side.

If there isn’t another way for them to get to their cottage, and sharing the road is really bugging you, then you could try to negotiate another route for them. You might offer them an easement across the back of your property, for instance.