Connecticut has enacted a new law, Public Act 14-67 (the “Act”), that now by statute allocates the costs to maintain, repair, and restore private easements and rights-of-way among certain users of those rights. The Act took effect on October 1, 2014.
According to the Act, the owner of a one- to four-family residential property that uses a private easement or right-of-way to access the property is responsible for the costs of maintaining (including snow removal), repairing, and restoring any damage to the easement or right-of-way.
If more than one property benefits from the private easement or right-of-way (including the property on which the easement or right-of-way is located), then the owners of all benefited properties are to share the maintenance, repair, and restoration costs according to either (1) an enforceable written agreement among the property owners, or (2) if there is no such written agreement, the proportionate benefit received by each property. The Act does not specify how the proportionate benefit is to be determined.
The Act states that in the event of any conflict between the Act and a written agreement among the benefited property owners, the written agreement controls. Because of the ambiguity over how maintenance costs are to be allocated among multiple benefited property owners, it is prudent for users of private easements and rights-of-way to have a written agreement addressing the maintenance, repair, and restoration of the easement or right-of-way. A well-crafted agreement will avoid an unexpected outcome that might otherwise result from the application of the Act, which has yet to be interpreted by Connecticut’s courts.