As noted in a previous post, this question was answered in Washington in the Buck Mountain case. In Oregon, the Legislature has addressed the question – ORS 105.170-185, giving powerful tools to users of shared easements to ensure that they are adequately maintained.
Under this statutory system, if a Road Maintenance or similar agreement is not in place, or to the extent that the agreement does not address the question, then costs of maintenance shall generally be based, absent fault, upon proportion of use (i.e. the house that is farthest from the public highway – the person who uses the greatest distance of the easement, pays the most). Other factors that may be considered, such as actual usage – number of trips, weight of vehicles, etc.
Importantly, if a user fails to pay their share, then they may be liable for attorney fees and costs.
Equally important, a user of an easement in need of maintenance may apply for the appointment of an arbitrator to apportion the cost of needed repairs before the repairs are made. This right may be invaluable when the cost to repair is high or the cooperating users do not want to bear the cost of repair and the contractor wants certainty before proceeding.
If you have a shared easement of any type, you do not have to be held hostage to an owner who refuses to approve needed maintenance.
This blog post is offered for general information and educational purposes only. It is not offered as legal advice and does not constitute legal advice or opinion. Although I intend to keep this information current, I do not promise or guarantee that the information is correct, complete, or up-to date. You should not act or reply upon the information in this post without seeking the advice of an attorney.