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Rules of the road maintenance agreement: clarity is key

238 Flying Point Rd - Freeport MLS # 1275148. Woods access to conservation land










238 Flying Point Rd - Freeport MLS # 1275148. Woods access to conservation land on the waterfront

Over the past two weeks we've been digging deep into private road obligations for lending in Maine as well as the burdens and benefits of private roads from driveway to subdivision.  

Here's what we know about lending in Maine:  "The VA program is the only program that requires a formal agreement in any State.  FHA, RD and conventional loan programs are not required to have them in Maine. Where you're going to run into challenges is with internal bank loan regulations."  - Phil Laughlin, First Financial Mortgage.

Checkout the Benefits and Burdens Blog to review types of private road arrangements you may encounter in your search for a home of your own. 

Now we'll look at the nuts and bolts of an actual agreement, with some tips on how to both protect liability and promote value for parties on all sides of the deal. 

Define Common Use:

Where ever there is shared roadway of any kind, it is helpful to have the common uses of the passageway defined. Split use, seasonal use, daily use? The more clarity in the definition, the easier it will be to transfer rights in a sale without conflict or concern for loss of rights to either party. 



Know the limitations of your documentation:  

If you have licensed use of a roadway that encroaches your neighbors land, that agreement is not necessarily and not likely transferable.  A new owner of your property will have start all over again with the neighbor for rights to use. The best form of documentation for rights of way, or share use agreements is a recorded legal description.   Look for the words "in perpetuity" (forever) and "transferable" in deed descriptions that define a right of way. 

Outline specifics of shared expenses:

The primary function of shared rights and a road maintenance agreement is to define who pays for maintenance. This includes but may not be limited to, plowing, paving, filling and grading (for gravel roads).  

Who decides? 

A solid road agreement will make clear reference to how decisions are made and how to mediate disagreement. In larger groups is it a simple majority or a super majority that dictates major financial decisions?  If only two parties are involved, what happens if they cannot agree?  Mediation should be spelled out in the agreement. 

Municipal Involvement:

Municipalities become involved with "private ways in which the public has an interest". Expenses related to safety and emergency access are at the core of this engagement.  So get to know your town or city rules and regulations about private ways before you purchase property that has private access.  


The allure of Maine is the wilderness and the ocean! Private roads make way to some outstanding places to live and even work in natural settings not available anywhere else.  Know what you are buying.  Ask for clarity when it comes time to sell. Enjoy the benefits with burden shared. 


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    1. Brett Daviswonderfullyb on

      So much great information. Wonderfully Done Marti. Thank you!