Farmer is milking me for road repairs

Our lawyer, Fiona McNulty, advises on the financial obligations of homeowners who share private access roads
Legal cartoon
© Merrily Harpur (
Question: At my weekend house we have a right of way over a private road owned by a local farmer. The road is also the main access to a dairy farm belonging to the farmer and so is used regularly by farm traffic and huge milk tankers.

The farmer wants to resurface the road and as I am the only other user has asked me to contribute half of the cost. I don’t think that this is fair — what can I do?

Answer: Look at your title deeds and see if there is an obligation on you to contribute to the maintenance and upkeep of the road over which you have been granted a right of way. It would be usual for there to be such an obligation.

However, you must consider the extent on any obligation — for instance, you may be required to contribute equally for maintenance and repair and be obliged to pay half of the cost, or your liability may be to pay a lesser percentage or to pay according to user. If it is a fixed percentage then you must pay that amount to the farmer, but if it is limited according to user then you can offer to pay a justifiable amount. It can sometimes be difficult to agree who should pay what when the obligation is to pay according to user as this term is so vague.

Offer to pay say 25 per cent of the cost on the basis that the farmer and his tractors and visiting milk tankers cause more wear and tear to the surface of the road. Hopefully you will be able to reach a satisfactory conclusion with the farmer. Failure to agree could mean you end up in expensive litigation.

What's your problem?

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.

Fiona is a partner in the residential real estate team at Thring LLP (

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

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