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 AttyHeather Your Own Question
AttyHeather, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 677
Experience:  Attorney with 15 years experience
Type Your Real Estate Law Question Here...
AttyHeather is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Neighbor issue in. Neighbor A and have a 60ft easement for

Customer Question

Hi, neighbor issue in Washington. Neighbor A and B have a 60ft easement for ingress/egress/utilities that is shared between Neighbor C and D's property (30 ft on each side). Road used to access Neighbor A and B's home is built down the center of that 60ft easement is only 12ft wide. A fence and landscaping was installed on Neighbor C's property decades prior to the road being built. Neighbor A now wants to expand the road, but none of the other neighbors want to. Neighbor A removed the fence, removed a large tree, and cut branches on several trees (potentially damaging them), without Neighbor C's permission. The 12 ft width is adequate for ingress/egress and the fence and trees were not hindering or impeding his access in any way. What is the latest case law on issues such as this? Do the other three neighbors have the ability to stop Neighbor A from continuing to cut more trees in the easement? Can Neighbor C sue Neighbor A for destroying their property?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  AttyHeather replied 1 year ago.

Hi! I'm Heather. I've been a practicing attorney for the last 15 years, and I'd be happy to assist you for informational and educational purposes.

Expert:  AttyHeather replied 1 year ago.

If there is an express easement giving Neighbor A the right to use that property for ingress and egress, and cutting the trees is necessary for reasonable ingress and egress, then the Neighbor A would be within his rights. Certainly, there are arguments against this, such as, removing the trees is not necessary for reasonable ingress and egress, because Neighbor A has been ingressing and egressing without removal of the trees for years. In addition, if the plain language of the easement directly speaks to this, it would be controlling on the issue. But in the absence of plain language, if the Neighbor A can show that removal of the trees is necessary for ingress and egress, then he is within his rights.

Does that make sense?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
How could he show it was needed... the road is wide enough for a car and large construction trucks (their home is under construction, the road is about 2 years old, but the fence and landscaping is/was decades old. They just want a wider road for appearances. And that road feeds into another private 12 foot wide road
Expert:  AttyHeather replied 1 year ago.

He could argue that he has a boat or camper that needs more room to get through, or it's so tight that he fears scraping the sides of his vehicles. You really need to pull the actual easement itself and read exactly what the words state. That is going to be your best bet on whether he has the right to do the expansion. Some access easements are very narrow, others are not. It's obviously not a good sign if it states 60 feet. But the explicit language of the easement might give you some argument as to why you can limit it. The problem is that if it's an express easement (which means in writing), then he can't lose the right just because the easement wasn't expanded until now. Some types of easements, you can lose that right if fences are put up, but not express easements. You have not said it's an express easement, but I'm assuming it is, because normally only an express easement would state it is 60 feet.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Am I having to pay for each question? An important fact is that in order to reach the subject road, all four families drive down a .5 mile, 12 foot private gravel road in order to get there. We don't have a copy of an easement document, only the plat drawings that show 30' on each side of the center line.