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Michael Bradley
Michael Bradley,
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 1059
Experience:  Owner at The Protection Group LLC
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There is an emergency vehicle access easement across my

Customer Question

There is an emergency vehicle access easement across my property to my neighbor. His property has been abandoned for more than 10 years. It has an building on it that was deemed abandoned and required to boarded up. The lots (mine and his) were subdivided and as part of the development requirements in approving the sub-dividing, the city said a road must be built with hammerhead turn around. I build the road to my lot (he would not share in the expense) and installed a gate (with city permit approval) to keep the homeless people living on his lot from my new house. If and when he decides to meet the development requirements, I will remove the gate as was also agreed with the city. Now he wants to sue me for endangering his abandoned lot. Does an abandoned property that has not met development requirements for occupancy have rights use the easement? Thank you
JA: Because real estate law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: CA
JA: Has any paperwork been filed?
Customer: i have a permit for the gate. and i have a letter from their lawyer threatening an action if i dont remove the gate.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: no. how is the fee determined? thank you
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Michael Bradley replied 2 months ago.

Since you have the necessary permits and permission from the city to put up the gate, I do not think the other owner has a legal leg to stand on. While there is a easement to allow emergency vehicle access, that does not need to be opened or held itself out to be opened when the property is abandoned. If the property is boarded up and is now an issue with regard to the homeless, that trumps anything that he can complain about with regards ***** ***** access to the property. This is now an issue of public safety and I cannot blame you for putting in a gate to help protect your property at this point. I am going to guess that is why the city gave you the permits. If at some point there is a change and be property becomes habitable again, then the gate can be addressed. I can't imagine this guy would use an attorney to fight the gate when the property itself is abandoned.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Thank you! The owner has been trying to sell the property for 2 years. He has access thru a 10 ft wide unpaved road on the opposite side of his house. However, it is overgrown including a tree growing in the middle of the driveway so cant be used. His real estate agent had been using my new road (pavers and landscaped) as the access and implying to buyers that they too would have access this way (until I installed the gate and built a wall around my property). That is why he is threatening action. His sales pitch has been harmed. I offered to share the cost of the required infrastructure with him (road, sewer, burying a power line which blocked his view). He rejected everything and I paid in full. He seems intent to fight (maybe it is a bluff. He gave me a deadline of today to reply before fling an action). He says I am interfering with the easement and creating a safety issue, but for whom?
Expert:  Michael Bradley replied 2 months ago.

I agree with your assessment. You are not interfering with the easement that the homeowner even needs since it is for emergency access only. It is clear that he is doing this since he does not want to spend the money to get his driveway back to a usable condition. Of course the money that you spent on that makes the property look better as opposed to a driveway with nothing but overgrown weeds. I still do not see where you have done anything wrong at this point. If that easement is for emergency access only, it would be up to either the fire department or police department or ambulance department to try to contact you with regards ***** ***** easement being blocked.

You may want to respond to the letter that they have sent. I would give them the same words that are contained in the letter. The letter clearly states that that back part of the property was an easement granted to the city of Palm Springs for emergency travel. Not day today travel by either homeowner. I do think that you are in the right on this one. Again, as I see it, it is the city of Palm Springs who is the one that can enforce the easement as it was given to them and not to the neighbor. At the end of the day it is not about getting sued but whether or not you would lose a suit. I do not think in my opinion that you would lose if the neighbor sues you. The city of Palm Springs would be a different story.

Expert:  Michael Bradley replied 2 months ago.

If you do think that this could turn into litigation, then I think you should contact the city of Palm Springs and talk to the zoning officer to let them know what you have done with regards ***** ***** emergency easement and the gate. There may be something that you can work out with the city which would allow them access via the opening of the gate so that there are easement will not be restricted. At the end of the day the easement is with the city and not the other homeowner.

Expert:  Michael Bradley replied 2 months ago.

can I still help?

Expert:  Michael Bradley replied 2 months ago.

Please rate my advice. While I do not do this for the ratings, my compensation is tied into the rating system.
Thank you.
If I can be of any further assistance please feel free to ask.