What Is a Private Road Maintenance Agreement?

In Road & Surface Management, Soil Stabilization, Surface Management by Frank Elswick

Maintenance agreements reduce conflict by ensuring that neighbors understand their shared responsibility for upkeep of private roadways.

While maintenance of public roads and highways is funded by our tax dollars, determining who is responsible for the upkeep of private roads can be a bit dicier. If maintenance duties aren’t clearly distributed from the outset, conflicts and even potential litigation amongst neighbors sharing the same private road may occur.

Here’s everything you need to know about creating and adhering to a formal road maintenance agreement, so you can avoid neighborly spats and simply enjoy the convenience of your shared roadway.

The Purpose of a Road Maintenance Agreement

A private road can be defined as a road that is open to the general public but that “primarily benefits those at whose request it was established.” When two or more property owners share the same private road or driveway, it’s necessary to divvy up and delineate in writing each person’s maintenance and payment responsibilities from the outset. Perhaps the best way to do this is through a formal road maintenance agreement.

As Alexandra Hartill writes for the Michigan Journal of Environmental and Administrative Law, “It appears that when there is not a maintenance agreement in place, nobody maintains the road until it is absolutely necessary, and then issues arise as to whose responsibility it is to perform and pay for the maintenance.”

What’s Covered & Who’s Involved?

Maintenance agreements should cover a variety of different factors. An effective agreement includes stipulations about things like vehicle and pedestrian access, parking, cost sharing, any prepayment agreements, the addition of new parcels, the effective term of the agreement, as well as provisions about how to handle disputes, should they arise. Typically the maintenance costs are split evenly amongst parcel owners, but sometimes financial responsibilities might be prorated according to how far each resident lives down the road or who has the biggest lot.

Often, homeowner associations set forth the details of these agreements before anyone even moves into the development. As Rich E. Glaze, a real estate attorney from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, tells Timber Home Living, “You want to create this document before anybody moves in, when the developer has full control, so it’s fair and equal for everyone…There are a host of different considerations. In general, the more detail the better.” He goes so far as to assert that the lack of such an agreement should be a red flag to anyone considering purchasing property in a particular neighborhood.

If no agreement exists, it’s prudent to get the community together and discuss writing a formal agreement with the understanding that working to keep shared roads in good condition will keep everyone’s property values high, as well as ensure easy access for emergency vehicles.

Making Road Maintenance Simple

Whatever the specific details of an agreement might be, Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc.’s award-winning solutions make the actual work of building and maintaining private roads both simple and cost-effective.

Midwest’s GreenPave® soil stabilizationtechnology turns unpaved gravel and dirt roads into asphalt-strength surfaces that require minimal maintenance. Soil-Sement® Engineered Formula is a polymer emulsion that similarly increases the load-bearing strength of all types of soils and surfaces, controls dust, and reduces the need for frequent road maintenance. Synthetic fluids EK35® and EnviroKleen® employ binder systems that stabilize unpaved surfaces, controlling PM10 and PM2.5 emissions and creating durable roads with pavement-like strength.

In short, Midwest simplifies maintenance matters and keep costs down; private road upkeep has never been easier.


Frank is the sales unit manager of Midwest's road construction and natural paving markets.