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Ask Law Educator, Esq. Your Own Question
Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 111489
Experience:  Licensed attorney practicing landlord-tenant, land use and other real estate law and litigation.
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Unbeknowst to me an easement of an old neighbor sewer line

Customer Question

Unbeknowst to me an easement of an old neighbor sewer line runs accross my property from the adjacent house. It has been leaking sewage into the street in front of my house for which DEP made me spend 26k thinking it was coming from my house. After doing that there was no change in the leakage which continued. The easement for this was granted 100 years ago by the previous owners when there was no sewer line in front of this adjacent house. There now is a sewer directly in front of the neighbor's house but he is trying to repair the old line rather than put in one in front of this house. What can I do?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can.

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I am sorry to hear that this wasn't caught by an inspection camera before you had to incur those costs..

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Unfortunately, an easement is a property right and it never expires. So if the neighbor wants to try and make the repairs to the old line instead of simply installing a new direct line, then legally they could do so by accessing the easement. The fact that there is a more direct route to reach the sewer wouldn't serve to extinguish the easement that was granted by the previous owners.

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However, the neighbor would be responsible for fixing any damage to your yard and returning it to its original condition once any repairs were performed (i.e. grass, sod, leveling, etc.).

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I am very sorry that I don’t have better news, but please understand that I do have an ethical and professional obligation to provide customers with legally correct answers based on my knowledge and experience, even when I know the answer doesn’t make the customer happy...

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
My question is what to do to challenge this . It does not appear in the deed of my house purchase.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Please respond. Telling me of this does not help me move forward and I am not satisfied with a response that does not provide options to challenge
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

Sorry for the delay. Are you saying that there is no recorded written easement from the previous owner in the local land records office?

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And that this was just a verbal easement granted to the neighbor?

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Neighbor says there is but it is not in my deed
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

Ok, an easement wouldn't necessarily be in your deed specifically. You would need to go down to the local land records office and see if a separate easement had been recorded from a prior owner to the neighbor or if the neighbor can come up with something in writing signed and notarized by a prior owner. If so, then you are simply out of luck because that easement conveys a legal property right to the holder to use that route, even if it is inconvenient for the underlying land owner.

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However if there is no written easement, then this would be a "license" which is a permissive use and it can be revoked at any time. So essentially the previous owner gave them permission to use the land, and the current owner can revoke that permission if they choose to do so.

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So it boils down to whether there is a written easement in existence or not.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The other issue is that this neighbor knew it was his sewage leaking and I had to pay 26k for my house sewer needlessly .
If there is a written easement in the land office what can I do to have it removed. You are not giving me any helpful advice and not satisfied
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

Ok, let me make it very clear...you can not have an easement removed legally if the easement holder won't agree...period. It is a right that they would have to use the underlying property and you can't just remove rights because they are inconvenient..

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Contrary to what people tend to think, sometimes there is simply not a legal loophole for someone to get around another person's rights.

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So if there is a written easement, then the only way to get rid of it would be to talk the neighbor into conveying it to you via a quitclaim deed, typically with some type of payment on your part.

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With that said, I don't think that you are going to be satisfied with my service here because I can't come up with some way for you to remove another person's legal rights so I am going to opt out of the question and open it up to other experts who might be able to help..

thanks

Barrister

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.

I am a DIFFERENT CONTRIBUTOR. The prior contributor was essentially correct. The issue here is that if the easement, recorded or not, has been in place for as long as you state, it is likely at the very least going to be an easement by prescription (meaning it has been used so long that they have acquired legal rights to an easement).

The prior contributor is also right that in general the only way to remove the easement is with the written agreement of the other party. However, if you can prove that somehow this party using the easement is abusing the easement and causing damage to your land where the easement goes through, then you can sue in court to force the person to either repair your land or the court can terminate the easement. These cases are not cheap and would require you to use a local real estate litigation attorney to file suit in court to seek to prove that there is an abuse of the easement and the amount of the damages.

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