Our country has thousands of miles of private roads. By “private,” I mean roads not owned or maintained by government that serve two or more parcels of land.
Landowners build private roads for many reasons, such as the prospect of better privacy, security and maintenance than local government will provide. Or perhaps because local government won't build or maintain a public road.
What could go wrong in building your own road? A lot.
Most private roads are created by signing and recording an easement, or by adding easement language to a deed of real estate that is then recorded. Say you have been granted an easement for a private road across a neighbor’s property. Your first step in understanding your rights to use the road is reading the easement or deed that created the roadway access.
Many developers take the short cut of deeding land “together with a private roadway easement” across adjacent land they own. Or they sign and record the form easement agreement many townships or cities require. Such agreements often do little more than grant the easement and say the private road users — and not the government — must maintain the road and improve it to higher standards as more parcel owners make use of the road.