The question of whether a street is public or private is very important to buyers and many do not realize the importance of knowing their street status.
Why do you need to know whether your street is public or private?
The status of your street will be able to dictate who is able to travel down the road and who is responsible for maintaining the road.
If the street is private that you live on, this this means you are the one who is able to travel the road and anybody unauthorized traveling on the road will be counted as trespassing. Since you are the one who owns the road this means you are responsible for maintaining the road.
If the road you live on is public, this means that anybody could use the road but you might not be the one who is responsible for maintaining the road. Just because the road is public that you live on does not mean that somebody else is responsible for maintaining the road.
A Street could be dedicated for public use and approved by the North Carolina department of transportation but does not mean that NCDOT has assumed maintenance of the public street.
Who decides if a street is public or private?
It is up to the original developer to declare if the streets will be public of private. The developer must have the streets approved by the NCDOT then declare the use of the streets.
When working with a buyer who wants to purchase a new home in a subdivision, it is up to the developers and their brokers to determine if the streets will be public or private before selling or conveying the home to the buyer. A written disclosure must be provided to the buyer that explains the responsibilities and consequences of a private street. The buyer must also sign this disclosure before the home can be sold or conveyed.
If the home was not newly built and the developer is no longer with the house then it is up to the real estate broker to determine the status of the street and who is responsible for maintaining the street. The broker must absolutely disclose this information to a prospective buyer.