Easement Disputes Attorney in Blaine, Minnesota
When you buy property, whether it be just land, a residence, or even a commercial structure, it is often the case that what you’re purchasing will be subject to what is called easements, or the right of other persons or entities to access your land for one reason or another.
Perhaps the most common type of an easement is that of a utility company. A water utility may have rights to run pipes under your property; so too might an electric company with its cables running either under or across your property.
Other examples of easements include a common driveway that runs through your property and allows someone living above you to have access to the public street, and also a pathway to a lake or park that runs across your land for the public to use.
Many easements will be listed in the title of the property you’re purchasing, while others may not and still be perfectly legal. Nonetheless, it is not uncommon for property owners to get into disputes about easements. If two or more homeowners share a common driveway, for instance, who is responsible for upkeep and maintenance? Suppose a neighbor has been parking a car on your property without your permission. Is that legal? Can you stop it, or does their continued use result in what is called a prescriptive easement?
If you have questions or concerns about easements on the property you own or are considering purchasing in or around Blaine, Minnesota, contact me at The Law Office of Robert J. Everhart, PLC. I am a real estate law attorney who consistently helps buyers and sellers make sure their transactions are fully transparent and are as financially and legally bulletproof as possible. I also help them resolve any disputes that arise when they are already in possession of the property.
My office is in Blaine, but I also proudly serve clients in Hennepin County, Ramsey County, and Sherburne County. Contact me immediately if you have an issue with easements or with any other real estate concern.
Overview of Easements
Consider the example of someone living above or behind you whose access crosses over your land to get to a public thoroughfare. In legal terms, your property is referred to as the servient tenement or estate, and the owner’s above or behind you as the dominant tenement or estate. Through an easement, the dominant estate is allowed to use the servient estate’s property for a specific use, but it does not give the dominant estate any ownership interest in the servient estate’s property.
Types of Easements
Easements can be established in various ways. One, of course, is by the two (or more) property owners agreeing on the easement in writing, which is called an express easement. By putting everything in writing through a deed, contract, or other agreement, the servient estate owner can specify the location and dimensions of the easement as well as the permissible uses.
Under Minnesota law, an easement by prescription can also be formed. Similar to the concept of adverse possession, an easement by prescription results when the use of the land is adverse or hostile, as well as actual, open and exclusive, for a period of 15 years or more.
For example, if a neighbor has indeed been parking their vehicle on a piece of your property for 15 or more years openly and adversely (against your wishes) for 15 or more years, then an easement by prescription can be said to have resulted.
Easements by necessity are also recognized under Minnesota law. Examples here could be that driveway to the road below mentioned earlier. Courts will create easements by necessity only when they are absolutely necessary. Easements by necessity are also not always permanent. If the city, for instance, suddenly constructs another road available to the landlocked property owner behind you, then the easement by necessity ceases to exist.
A similar concept to an easement by necessity is called easement by implication. Again, this could be the pathway to a street, or perhaps a walkway to a lake or park. The courts will recognize the easement as necessary for the beneficial enjoyment of the property.
Easement Maintenance Obligations
Generally speaking, the owner of an easement has a duty to maintain it. However, in the example of the driveway running to the street and serving more than one property holder, the owners must share in the cost of maintaining the easement. If one owner fails to do their part, the other owner or owners can begin by sending a demand letter and, if that fails, by bringing a lawsuit.
It is not uncommon for disputes to arise over the use of one’s property by others. If there is already in existence an express easement, or an easement by prescription, necessity, or implication has been achieved, the servient estate holder may have few options other than negotiating for a better arrangement.
If, however, someone starts using your property for their purpose without your permission, you will need to take action before an easement by prescription takes place. Any questions you have about how your property is being used or attempted to be used, should be referred to an experienced real estate attorney.
Easement Disputes Attorney Serving
Easement law can be tricky. If you find yourself in a dispute over an existing easement, or overuse of your property that could lead to an easement, contact me at The Law Office of Robert J. Everhart, PLC. Likewise, if you’re purchasing a property and want to be sure which easements are legal and which are not, reach out and let me search the deed and any other available documents. I proudly serve clients in Blaine and throughout the counties of Hennepin, Ramsey, and Sherburne.