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Change_of_pace
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Registered: ‎10-22-2012
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Easement Q&A about maintenance and liability

Question for the Forum based on this scenario: If I own a home in a high-density area and the neighboring house behind me has an easement to use my driveway to access their house and garage. Who has the reponsibility for maintaining it; eg shoveling the snow or repairing damage from a delivery truck to their house. Also what about liability in the case of slip-and-fall, sliding cars, or other personal injury / property damage? All comments or help appreciated. I'm not real fond of buying into that situation but I see a lot of it on the market.
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Joe_Seattle
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Registered: ‎04-22-2008
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Re: Easement Q&A about maintenance and liability

It really depends on the wording in the easement. Some older easements are very nebulous, but you can work out wording with your neighbor that will clearly define responsibilities and liabilities. It's probably something that could benefit both parties.
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Change_of_pace
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Re: Easement Q&A about maintenance and liability

Thanks for the feedback.   At least I can bank away that knowledge now.  The house in question just came on the market in the past few days, and just as fast I got a redfin update tonight that it went pending.  Someone else must have seen the value in it just as I did.  I was supposed to o view it tomorrow.

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Nanomug
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Re: Easement Q&A about maintenance and liability

Easements for ingress and egress are rarely written well.  Often they are vague which leads to disputes. Even worse when the properties change hands over time and things get blurred.  The nicest neighbor could sell to the nastiest person.

 

We purchased a home that the driveway was partially on the neighbors property.  There were reciprocal easements giving them a parking space on our property in exchange for the driveway property.  The problem was that the neighbors who bought about 18 months prior to our purchase thought the driveway was theirs. They blocked our use and caused all sorts of mayhem.  A long legal battle followed.

 

The issue was that the easements did not cover pertinent information regarding useage, who could use it and maintenance.

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ardell
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Registered: ‎08-27-2011
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Re: Easement Q&A about maintenance and liability

A typical Seattle easement is that each owns the driveway up to the half way mark and each has an easement over the other person's half. Maintenance agrrements are rare, and yes while it is true that you "can" get one as someone stated, the other party rarely will sign it. 

 

Usually if the house is behind and the easement portion is owned by the front house, the front house has full responsibility and liability for the portion on it's land. But there are always exceptions and usually it is better to come up with a mutually agreeable plan vs turning it into a feud or legal battle.

ARDELL DellaLoggia
Sound Realty
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Joe_Seattle
Posts: 324
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Re: Easement Q&A about maintenance and liability

well said Ardell, I've been on both sides of these agreements and it's not usually much fun. However there are sometimes huge financial gains if your willing to be the one to figure it out and jump through some legal hoops. I have found that most people are willing to work these things out.
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ardell
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Re: Easement Q&A about maintenance and liability

Joe...no doubt. But usually, because I am an agent, what I often see is someone suggesting this agreement be done during escrow and before closing. The person buying the house wants the seller to get an agreement from the neighbor before they close escrow. I have never seen that work in that short time frame. So for the purpose of real estate transactions in play, it's next to impossible in my experience, and not a reasonable expectation of a buyer, unless the seller was already in process of doing something with the neighbor.

ARDELL DellaLoggia
Sound Realty
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Joe_Seattle
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Re: Easement Q&A about maintenance and liability

My lawyer suggested this to me. No way in the world for this to come together before closing. I think that people want very clear real-estate transactions, and I don't blame them. I guess the difference for me is am I buying this as my primary residence? Or is this an investment opportunity that I'm willing to put some risk into?
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ardell
Posts: 345
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Re: Easement Q&A about maintenance and liability

Much of Seattle has the middle-split driveway and those homes have changed hands for decades without anyone raising an eyebrow about it. On the other hand, I have seen some on The Eastside, notably in Kirkland, that I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. So it really depends on the specifics at hand.

I don't like a back house where the front house garage faces the easement driveway such that if someone in the front house parked in front of their garage "temporarily", the person in the rear house could not get in or out of their own home. The last one I saw like that was asking $1.3M and the builder ended up living in the rear house because he couldn't sell it.

ARDELL DellaLoggia
Sound Realty
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Has
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Registered: ‎10-10-2012
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Re: Easement Q&A about maintenance and liability

I bought one 4 plex which are part of three 4 plexs group built by a single owner back in 1980s, and there was easement of driveway/parking lot/storm drain. Now these three buildings are owned by three owners. mine are in front of their. The driveway are 30 years old, and is broken. I want to repave the drive way and whole parking lot, and ask other owners to share the cost, but one of the owner does not agree, and we are stuck there.

 

Do we have to go to the court to resolve this? are there other ways to get us out of this? maybe I can put a fence on my land and force the guy to talk to me?