Common Neighbor Easement Problems

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“A legal easement gives someone permission to use the land of another for a particular purpose. It is common for neighbors to disagree over easements. In most cases, easements are granted explicitly in deeds or other records, such as surveys.”

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Common Neighbor Easement Problems

Easements typically arise because neighboring property owners find them convenient or necessary. An easement usually “runs with the property,” meaning it remains in effect even after the property changes hands. Property sales often lead to easement disputes.

Typically, easements provide one neighbor access to another neighbor’s land through one neighbor’s property as they pass through the neighbor’s property.

In some cases, easements must include all the essential information about their purpose, scope, and terms. When neighbors have differing views about the easement. They often argue whether one party is overusing it, exceeding its scope, and who handles maintaining and repairing it. Let’s learn about the Common Neighbor Easement Problems.


What Are Easements?

Before understanding the meaning of easements regarding your home, we must know the basics. An easement grants a company or individual the right to utilize someone else’s land for a particular reason, for example, if your property is in a position that blocks or interferes with an essential road. 

There may be an easement to allow traffic to move through without risk. A different example would be the utility company with an easement allowing them to access electrical panels on your property.

The easements cause many disputes among neighbors and for reasonable reasons. The property owner is entitled to the right to have their home enjoyed regardless of the existence of an easement; the easement’s terms could limit the enjoyment of their property. 

It is crucial to remember that you cannot hinder the function of an easement in any way, so if your easement is based on moving traffic that crosses your property, for example, you may find your time outside tricky.


Neighbor Abusing Easement

Neighbor abusing easement refers to a situation where a neighboring property owner is misusing or exceeding the rights granted by an easement. An easement is a legal right that permits the owner of a property to use the property for a particular purpose, like accessing the driveway, crossing over a piece of property, or using utilities.

Neighbor abusing easement can be a challenge to resolve. Knowing what is involved in easements, speaking directly with neighbors, seeking an amicable solution, and knowing the rights and restrictions in law can settle many disputes without expensive litigation.

Preventive measures like careful research, precise documentation, and proactive maintenance can help create a harmonious relationship between neighbors. Promoting openness of communication and mutual respect is crucial to successfully dealing with issues of easement between neighbors and encouraging positive relationships between neighbors.


How Does a Neighbor Easement Affect You and Your Property?

The type of easement on your land, its duration, and whether it prohibits you from using the land in the manner you desire will determine whether that easement affects you. Buying a house means you might end up with an easement you don’t want, so it’s essential to know about property easements.


Different Types of Easements

What are the 3 types of easements? In general, easement issues with neighbors fall into three categories recognized by different states. In particular, the following easements are recognized by some states:


Different Types of Easements.


Easement by Prescription

Prescriptive easements arise through adverse possession. This means no longer being the property’s original owner, but someone else acquires ownership or uses rights to it.

An individual can establish a prescriptive easement without the owner’s permission. An easement that prescribes how you use another’s property may apply to you;


Easement by Necessity

An easement of this type is usually created by the law rather than by specific promises or agreements between neighbors. The law implies the easement’s existence so that justice may prevail.

For example, a parcel of land that is landlocked can be considered an easement by necessity since access is only possible by crossing another land parcel. Consequently, the law creates an easement by necessity to provide access to the landlocked owner’s property through the other landowner’s property and


Negative Easement

Negative easements are generally regarded as restrictive covenants. Because they create an obligation, liability, or restriction on the property owner to use their property a certain way.

For instance, if new condos are under construction, and the residents of existing condos do not want their ocean views obstructed by the new tower, they can determine a negative easement.


How do I find the cost of repaving my driveway? It lies between my two neighbors. And they have easements.

Let’s get some background. Private easements are legal rights to utilize the land of someone else for a specific reason. If your property has an easement or two, you must let your neighbors access your driveway.

If you bought your home, the title insurance firm and attorney would likely have told you about the neighbor’s easements. Sometimes, the party responsible for an easement may also file a contract with the county clerk. This agreement will fix this problem. Without it, you lack a straightforward way to make your neighbors pay their fair share. You own the land alone.

If all goes as planned, it would be ideal for your neighbors to admit the problem, as you did. They should agree to split the cost in three ways. If they don’t agree to this arrangement by themselves, the first step would be to discuss the arrangement with them. If both or one of them are unwilling to accept the offer, you’ve got various choices.

Your best alternative is to simply not take action, let the road get worse, and then push them to bargain. The drawback is that it will require time, and you’ll need a lovely road for yourself.


An attorney writes a letter.

Another option is having an attorney draft an official letter. Both neighbors would receive the address. It would threaten to block their driveway if they don’t accept a fair amount of money. It is likely to cause a lot of anger; however, it could also scare the neighbors enough that they will contribute, at the very least, to the effort to renovate.

The final option is to make good on the threat and block access to the driveway. This is a risky move. A court order would require the removal of the obstruction from your driveway. This is if your neighbors have an easement to use it. However, it could force your neighbors to hire lawyers. 

They would need to get an order from a judge to make them obey. The expense and time might entice them to join the table with some money. It would help cover the cost of paving the road.


Resolving a dispute over an easement with Your Neighbor

Many easements are in place out of convenience or for the sake of neighboring property owners. Most easements run alongside the property and thus continue to exist after the property is transferred to the new owner. In most cases, this is the time when an easement dispute is triggered.

Imagine you share a driveway with your neighbor, which divides and leads to both garages at the end of the driveway. However, the driveway may technically be located on the neighbor’s property. It’s the only way to reach your garage, and you have an easement to access the driveway. But, when a new homeowner is moved to the adjacent house, there is an issue regarding your driveway use. A dispute quickly develops since you rely on your ability to enter your garage.


An attorney can assist in resolving your disagreement/neighbor problems

If your neighbor needs to adhere to your legal right to access their driveway, you should wait to contact someone specializing in real estate law. There are many ways that an attorney can assist in resolving your disagreement in your favor, including:

  • Write a demand note on legal letterhead to your neighbor to inform them of your easement’s ownership and your right to utilize the driveway.
  • Talk to the neighbor and use an oath of legal proceedings to leverage
  • Check your easement for answers; the language may contain the answer.
  • Try to resolve the situation civilly with your neighbor. You can come to an agreeable agreement with all parties involved.
  • Your attorney’s letter may help bridge the gap and support a resolution if a civil discussion fails to resolve.
  • A court proceeding may be necessary to protect your rights. If you have exhausted all other options, the law is on your side.

Disputes can also occur if your neighbor is using your property in violation of an appropriate easement or easement, and you may request an injunction to deter them from trespassing onto your property.


When should we proceed to court/settlement over a boundary dispute?

If the demand letter or other talks between your attorneys haven’t worked, it may be time to file a lawsuit in circuit court. It is likely a ” quiet title.” This is when you ask the court to review all the arguments and evidence. This includes your neighbor’s evidence. 

The court will then decide who legally owns the land.

At this moment, your attorney is likely to have all the details required for the complaint. However, preparing for litigation requires more research and documents. It would be best if you had these to comply with the court’s rules for exhibits, legal briefs, and other documents. 

So, the costs will rise quickly. In the early stages of a lawsuit, if the case looks ready for settlement, a reasonable attorney will try to limit the expense of the demands on the other side. For instance, an attorney may limit requests for documents referred to in the form of “admissions” and “interrogatories.” 

Most disputes are settled a few days after trial. It is often best to aim to settle, keep good relations, and keep costs down. Also, be ready to proceed with the trial if needed.


It is essential to choose a mediator.

The court might even require you to try mediation to agree. It is essential to choose a mediator with experience in real estate-related matters. The mediator can guide the discussions and negotiations. They give real-world information about potential trial outcomes. Retired judges are often great mediators. They have likely had to decide on cases like yours.

If mediation fails, a settlement is possible. But it would be best if you now focused on preparing for the trial. Find out the land’s worth to you. And see if going to trial is in your best financial interest. In rare cases, you can recover your costs from another side. 

But the best result is to win the case and get your land while spending a lot of money. The most likely outcome is losing the case and then incurring costs. Sometimes, a tiny piece of land isn’t worth fighting over.


Disputes Over an Easement

The owner of the property can grant an easement if they agree to the request. What happens when an owner changes property ownership over the easement? Does the new owner have the right to be able to cancel the easement?

The simple answer is no. The new owner of the property must be able to comply with the easement. If you refuse to honor the easement, you could land in severe legal trouble. But, it is possible to have an easement terminated legally.

The court must decide if the easement is unjust. This dramatically disrupts the owner’s daily life, and a ruling must be made on it.

For instance, maybe there’s an easement that you have on your property that allows neighbors to gain access to local parks. However, a new apartment complex is being built in the area, and the number of residents is higher than expected. The masses are littering the land, tripping over it, and causing noise disturbances.

In the case above, you may challenge the easement in the court. The court may declare the easement null if it agrees.


Bottom Line.

Real estate easements are quite common, as seen in this example. Landowners are entitled to use their property as they see fit, including granting other parties the right to do so. When it comes to finding an easement on your property. However, it can be challenging and interfere with your property’s use.

It is best to consult with a qualified and knowledgeable property lawyer in your area. If you have any concerns about the easement of your property or if you are negotiating one,

Hedy Ghavidel

HEDY GHAVIDEL Managing Attorney  Roseville Office  1-866-471-6981  Bio...

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