How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask Irwin Law Your Own Question

Irwin Law
Irwin Law, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 4842
Experience:  Lawyer- Broker 30+years - foreclosure, short sale, liens, title attorney.
18215332
Type Your Real Estate Law Question Here...
Irwin Law is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

My family has a house in a private lake association. We have

Resolved Question:

My family has a house in a private lake association. We have been here since before there was even an association. The access road on our side of the lake runs through my private property between our home and the water. We own down to the high water mark. I believe this is an easement? The deed states the following..."together with and subject to the right to pass and repass by foot or otherwise over a road fourteen feet in width, situated on a portion of the premises herein described, which said road is forever to be kept open and common, its entire length as shown on a plan by ...." I interpret this to mean that as long as i keep a fourteen foot section of this road open (not fenced) for the use of others up past me to pass and repass to access their properties then I am in compliance. My problem: The self formed "road care committee" (which was formed unofficially no charter or papers that i can find making them any kind of official entity to collect contributions from neighbors for a once a year grading after the spring run off as there were areas further up the road that were not privately owned and not maintained and would wash out making it had for them to access there camps further up the road) Our own lake association does not recognize that they are an entity that is affiliated with us at all and grant them no authority not even a mention at our annual meetings. Even though they collect "dues". Myself and several other neighbors have refused to pay their dues explaining that we maintain our own roadways on our property and do not wish to be part of their committee as we do not support what they are doing. Anyway, this road care committee and their president in particular has taken it up themselves to improve our road even on private property such as my own. They will come and dump paving grade crushed stone on even the slightest pot holes and they fill and grade the road several times a year. I have sent them a certified letter asking them to cease and desist any such improvements to my property stating the language of the deed and asking them to respect my rights as the property owner to not have improvements to this right of way/easement. They not only do not respect this and continue to improve my property, usually when I am away, but when they have tried to do so with us here they have refused to leave the property when we have asked them very nicely to and have verbally assaulted us in front of our small child. I have called the police this last time as it was very upsetting and confrontational and literally interrupted out father's Day dinner. The President of the "Road Care committee" insists he has the right to upkeep and improve this right of way as he sees fit. I am at my whits end here. What are their rights on my property, if any, other than to pass through it? What do I need to do to reinforce this.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Law Pro replied 1 year ago.

Welcome to JustAnswer! My goal is to do my very best to understand your situation and to provide a full and complete excellent answer for you.

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm going to assist you with your question.

Please bear with me if you believe my answer isn’t coming fast enough because I’m also working with other customers too. I apologize for any seemingly late response.


Who is the easement for - does it state in your deed? Like other property owners along the lake? Does your deed specifically delineate or state such?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

HI there,


 


Sorry for the late response to your question I wanted to be certain with my answers. I have read my deed and my neighbor's deeds we both have our property's divided such that there is more than one deed, and can not find any reference to whom 'specifically" the access is for. It states on my neighbor's deeds that ..."together with the right to pass and repass on foot or teams in common with others over a pass way fourteen feet in width extending from the premises in a northerly direction to the road also known as the Marlble road" together with and subject to the right to pass and repass by foot or otherwise over a road situated in the easterly portion of the herein demised premises which said road is forever to be kept open and common its entire length as shown on plan...";together with and subject to the right to pass and repass by foot or otherwise over a road fourteen feet in width situated on the premises herein which road is forever to be kept open and common its entire length as shown on a plan..." The past three are all my neighbor's deeds. Please advise as to the rights of others on our property on the access way, asap. Thanks

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Relist: Incomplete answer.
Expert requested specific information that i had to research and has not responded since I provided the requested information.
Expert:  Irwin Law replied 1 year ago.

Hello. Another contributor here and I'll try to assist in Answering this interesting question. First, I thank you for your cogent explanation of the situation and the research. The law of easements can be extremely complex. The easements crossing your land make yours the servient tenement. The land that is favored by the easement is called the dominant tenement. The terms "open and common" mean that the easements are for the public and not limited to a particular neighboring owner. The problem that I think you face legally is that in most states, the right to use the easement in favor of the dominant tenement also carries the right to maintain or improve its condition. Thus it may well be that the landowners above you who have the right to use the road also have the right to maintain it the same as you as the abutting owner do. There is some reference to that principal under MA law in: http://www.oldrepublictitle.com/manational/Underwriting/easementrighttorepair.asp

Here is a good article dealing with ownership of private roads which near the end also touches upon the issue of maintenance: http://www.jeffreytangleypc.com/blog/2011/12/private-ways-who-has-the-duty-to-maintain-and-repair.shtml This should not be considered a recommendation of this particular attorney, who I am not acquainted with. This attorney's conclusion is that you may be in a gray area of law where the rights and duties of the abutting owner and those using the road are not clear cut. In such cases it is best to reach an agreement with all concerned as to this maintenance issue. For a more definitive opinion, you might have a local real estate attorney review the cases that this writer makes reference to in light of your particular situation.

I hope that this information is helpful. If not, and you need further information, please do not rate this Answer and just send me a Reply asking for clarification. After that, I hope you will enter a positive rating so that I will be compensated for assisting you. Also, be sure to verify this information with a local attorney who is familiar with your local laws and procedures. Thanks again for using Pearl.Com- Just Answer. Your business is appreciated.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hello,


 


Thank you for responding. I read over the links you provided. It does seem that our situation is a "grey" area of the law herein MA. Some history here that's interesting. The road care committee is a self formed group of neighbors from farther up the lake that got together to take up a collection to pay for the road which on their end is NOT privately owned to be plowed after the spring run off. There were a couple spots that would wash out badly and they had a hard time getting to their "camps" up the road. There are many of us on the original road that own the property that the right of way runs through. Some of us have water and utility lines buries under the right of way that run to the lake side and have posted that our properties are NOT to be grated. This USED to be respected. We have always maintained our own road frontage. As have my neighbors for almost 70 years. Our ownership of this property even pre-dates the lake association. We all belong to that association now. But we do not belong to nor pay dues to the road care committee, and our association does not even recognize the "road care committee" as affiliated with our association in any way. Also, the town roads which are paved are in terrible shape. Much like our little dirt road used to be. Now this road care committee has illegally widened this right of way though other's property and packed and grated it so much it is smooth like fresh pavement. So if we get a good rainstorm and we get the slightest divot or god forbid small pot hole they want to come down and fill it. This has all never been an issue in the 50 plus years my family has been here. And the sad truth is the nicer and wider they open the road, the faster the autos go through our property. We have to cross the right of way located on our properties to access our beachfronts and most of the time they do not even yield to us as pedestrians. They have never had any authority to do anything to our property before except pass through. We fill our own holes is they get bad enough and have never prevented anyone from passing or re-passing through. Again, I can not find any documentation that makes this group any kind of official organization, yet they collect dues from those willing to pay them and claim all kinds of authority. They dump stuff on the road and fill it in even though we are in a very environmentally sensitive area with our spring fed lake and wet lands. They do all of this without any kind of charter, official documentation, or permits. And now they harass and threaten myself and others that will not pay their "road dues" or want them to stop doing anything to our properties except pass through. Isn't the "own-ness" on them to show me something that gives them any authority on my property other than to pass though it? We are at total whits end here.

Expert:  Irwin Law replied 1 year ago.

I don't see any legalistic answer to your situation. The road is a public easement and anyone can assist in maintaining it. That's the law and there's nothing you can do about it. They don't have to have official position or sanction to do so, nor do they have to be adjacent property owners, as you are. In short, you are opposed to people other than yourself helping to maintain and actually improve the condition of the access road across your property. No judge is going to issue an injunction against that group for that reason. I am truly sorry, but the only suggestion or advice that I can give you is to work something out with the other people that everyone can live with. Perhaps an offer to contribute to the overall upkeep costs in return for the group designating your property owner group the exclusive maintenance duties over your section of the road might appeal to them. Good luck.

 

I hope that this information is helpful. If not, and you need further information, please do not rate this Answer and just send me a Reply asking for clarification. After that, I hope you will enter a positive rating so that I will be compensated for assisting you. Also, be sure to verify this information with a local attorney who is familiar with your local laws and procedures. Thanks again for using Pearl.Com- Just Answer. Your business is appreciated.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

"The road is a public easement and anyone can assist in maintaining it. That's the law and there's nothing you can do about it. They don't have to have official position or sanction to do so, nor do they have to be adjacent property owners, as you are." Sorry but I want to be certain I understand you correctly...So you are saying that ANYONE can just maintain or improve any road or right of way they have access to? I was told some time ago by members of this committee that have since abandoned being involved with it, that I could put speed bumps on my property as long as it was posted. The members of the committee at that time were friendly and as concerned with the increasing speeds as we were. They checked with our insurance agent and attorney and said yes it is your property you just have to post that they are leveling at their own risk, and you have to keep it open. No fences.

Expert:  Irwin Law replied 1 year ago.
Yes. That thought crossed my mind last night. If the problem is speeding cars, I see no reason why you couldn't install speed bumps or humps to slow people down. I don't know the local ordinances are on that, but you always see signs warning of them. I also think they would considered as improvement, so no one could legally try to remove them. You would have the upper hand in that argument. Good luck.

I hope that this information is helpful. If not, and you need further information, please do not rate this Answer and just send me a Reply asking for clarification. After that, I hope you will enter a positive rating so that I will be compensated for assisting you. Also, be sure to verify this information with a local attorney who is familiar with your local laws and procedures. Thanks again for using Pearl.Com- Just Answer. Your business is appreciated.

Irwin Law, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 4842
Experience: Lawyer- Broker 30+years - foreclosure, short sale, liens, title attorney.
Irwin Law and 11 other Real Estate Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you. SO you do understand that this right of way goes directly through my private property that I am taxed for correct?

Expert:  Irwin Law replied 1 year ago.

Yes, I understand that. But the use is open to the others, and right to maintain it is a gray area. If there is a better way to route the easement so that it doesn't burden your (and/or other's) property as much, but would still provide others with access to their property, perhaps an agreement could be reached by all concerned to relocate it.

BTW, I will be off line until late tomorrow afternoon or early evening.

 

I hope that this information is helpful. If not, and you need further information, please do not rate this Answer and just send me a Reply asking for clarification. After that, I hope you will enter a positive rating so that I will be compensated for assisting you. Also, be sure to verify this information with a local attorney who is familiar with your local laws and procedures. Thanks again for using Pearl.Com- Just Answer. Your business is appreciated.

 

JustAnswer in the News:

 
 
 
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
 
 
 

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
< Last | Next >
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
  • My Expert was fast and seemed to have the answer to my taser question at the tips of her fingers. Communication was excellent. I left feeling confident in her answer. Eric Redwood City, CA
  • I am very pleased with JustAnswer as a place to go for divorce or criminal law knowledge and insight. Michael Wichita, KS
  • PaulMJD helped me with questions I had regarding an urgent legal matter. His answers were excellent. Three H. Houston, TX
  • Anne was extremely helpful. Her information put me in the right direction for action that kept me legal, possible saving me a ton of money in the future. Thank you again, Anne!! Elaine Atlanta, GA
  • It worked great. I had the facts and I presented them to my ex-landlord and she folded and returned my deposit. The 50 bucks I spent with you solved my problem. Tony Apopka, FL
  • Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help. Mary C. Freshfield, Liverpool, UK
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • Tina

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    4813
    16 years of legal experience including real estate law.
< Last | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/MU/multistatelaw/2011-11-27_173951_Tinaglamourshotworkglow102011.64x64.jpg Tina's Avatar

    Tina

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    4813
    16 years of legal experience including real estate law.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/LA/lawpro/2012-6-25_171315_PT206740s.64x64.jpg Law Pro's Avatar

    Law Pro

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    6227
    20 years extensive experience in real estate law, foreclosure, finance, and landlord tenant law.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/BA/barristerinky/2012-6-10_22423_office.64x64.jpg Barrister's Avatar

    Barrister

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    4966
    13 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 24+ years
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/LA/LawTalk/2012-6-6_17379_LawTalk.64x64.JPG LawTalk's Avatar

    LawTalk

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    4446
    I've more than 27 years legal experience. Additionally, in CA I held a Real Estate Broker's license.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/RA/rayanswers/2012-6-7_23346_Untitled1.64x64.jpg Ray's Avatar

    Ray

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    4030
    Texas Attorney for 29 years dealing in real estate
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/PH/philip.simmons/2012-6-7_161915_BIGPhilipSimmons.64x64.jpg P. Simmons's Avatar

    P. Simmons

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    2377
    12+ yrs. of experience including real estate law.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/mnphillips2/2009-03-13_203105_10984459-249293407.jpeg Phillips Esq.'s Avatar

    Phillips Esq.

    Attorney-at-Law

    Satisfied Customers:

    2355
    B.A.; M.B.A.; J.D.