What to know about Private Farm and Ranch Roads in Texas

Private Roads vs. Public Roads: What to know

Elaine McCampbell Uncategorized

Not all Texas homes and ranches are accessible from public roads. In cases where no public roads provide access, private roads and driveways are used.

Is your rural Texas land accessed by private road? Or are you thinking of buying a farm or ranch that’s only accessible by private road? There are some important things to consider when it comes to your responsibilities that come with owning private roads.


First, let’s define what exactly is considered a private road in Texas:

According to the Texas DOT, a private road is a road/driveway that “is owned and maintained by an individual, business, or other non-county entity.” Private roads are roads on private property and generally do not receive public services. They can be found in rural areas as well as gated communities and subdivisions in Texas.

It’s important to know that you and any other co-owners of a private road are responsible for any maintenance. The county or city isn’t coming out to fix your potholes or rebuild an embankment if your road gets washed out. Even if cities or local governments wanted to help out and use funds to fix your private road, they can’t use public funds for any private purpose, such as road maintenance, trash collection, etc. as stated in the Texas Constitution. This can be a factor in determining if a ranch property is a good fit for you.  Are you willing and able to take on the responsibility of maintaining access to your farm or ranch? The costs and problems with private roads can add up (especially if they are unexpected). 


But there are some benefits to owning land off of a private road.

At the same time private roads create a maintenance burden for owners, they also offer more privacy, control, and degrees of freedom. For example, cities in Texas can’t enforce state or local traffic laws on privately-owned streets within their boundaries. Also, owners can place gates and restrict entry as long as each owner (and their approved guests) can get access.


The extra degree of control comes at the price of maintenance.

While the Texas Transportation Code allows the owners of private roads to regulate or prohibit their use, it doesn’t mean anything goes. There are several gray areas and exceptions to established rules when it comes to private roads. For example, in some situations with multiple owners, property owners can arrange for the county to extend speed limits and traffic enforcement to private roads. Additionally, local ordinances could potentially govern the availability of certain municipal or county services available for properties located on or adjacent to a private road.


The important thing for people buying and selling ranch properties with private roads is to be aware of your responsibilities and limitations. Owners also need to be mindful of any co-ownership of roads that might impact who is responsible and what needs to be done to keep the road open and usable. Be sure to find out everything you need to know before you fall in love with a Texas farm or ranch property. The best way to do that is to partner with a Texas farm and ranch realtor with proven track record for success


Don’t get caught sleeping on the details of your dream property. Hire a quality Texas rural land brokerage that can help you understand exactly where your responsibilities begin and end when it comes to your land off of a private road. Contact Ruple Properties to get started.