Anyone here know anything about real estate law?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Armando Zamora, Dec 5, 2001.

  1. Armando Zamora

    Armando Zamora Second Unit

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    Here's the dillio...
    A builder is putting up some new construction housing immediately next to my house/lot. Fine, that's cool. As we all know, residential structures need water & sewage utilities, provided either through the government or via well & septic system. In this case, the water & sewer will be provided by the municipal government. Here lies the problem. In order for the builder to get the sewer line to the new homes, he'll have to dig through (or up) my property, as well as my neighbor's.[​IMG] The manhole is located in my neighbor's backyard. The cleanout (I think that's what it's called) is located in my backyard. The utility company came out today to mark the location of the sewer. There is no doubt that digging on our lots will have to be done in order to get the sewer line to the new homes. I estimate that the distance, at least from the cleanout, to the new home property line is about 100-120 feet. As you can imagine, that's a significant amount of digging that they'll have to do in my yard. My backyard is already pretty established landscape-wise. Not to mention, I have a retaining wall that may be affected.
    I don't believe that any easements or provisions in my deed exist that will give any Joe Shmoe the right to just dig on my property. I just bought the house last summer and cannot recall seeing any such provisions.
    So...any suggestions on what I should be doing here? I'm pretty sure that the builder cannot start digging without permission, correct? And if the builder does approach me/us to ask for permission, what shall I do then? What kind of leverage do I have here, if any. Can I ask for compensation? And if so, what's the limit (in my mind, it's the sky [​IMG] )
    thx,
    ~armando~
     
  2. Russ Lucas

    Russ Lucas Stunt Coordinator

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    Hypothetically, the key is whether an easement has been granted in the past. I've got no knowledge of Maryland law, but generally the granting of an easement to another would either/both be referred to in your Deed or in the Deed to your predecessor owner, or otherwise be of record in your county. For example, your predecessor could have granted the easement, and your deed could incorporate that easement by reference to "all easements, etc. of record." Is your house in a plan of lots, or otherwise subject to restrictive covenants? Those, too, may be important to consult, as they may affect rights of way.

    Unless the diggers are simply mistaken about whose land they're digging on, it sounds as if they believe they've got the authority to locate the line there. Assuming you don't get much elucidation from your deed or other documents and you don't wish to search the county's records, you might just ask them under what authority they're digging on your land. In theory, if the easement hasn't already been granted to someone, a landowner should be entitled to pursue compensation for it.

    Of course, this isn't intended to be construed as legal advice. Better you should call a lawyer if you wish to act and can't solve it yourself.

    EDIT: I'll edit to add that if the cleanout is located in your backyard, there's got to be something previously granted. The local authority needed an easement to put it there in the first place. You may just be haggling over dimensions. Hypothetically.
     
  3. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    I had a completely different take on this. Since the local government controls those services, they can (and will) do whatever they want to. The builders know this and skip the formalities.

    It would be nice if you could get some sort of assurance that they won't be doing this every time another house is built. I'm not versed in the law either.

    Glenn
     
  4. Robert McDonald

    Robert McDonald Stunt Coordinator

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    Is your house in a platted subdivision? If so you need to look at the plat, as well, as it could show utility easements. If there is no easement (either separately granted or contained in the plat) the city could still run a line via eminent domain but they would have to compensate you for doing so. I suggest that you: (1) get your closing papers for when you bought the house (did you get title insurance? That would show any easements. Do you have a survey? That, too, would show easements known to the surveyor); (2) if you can't find your closing papers ask the company that closed the transaction for you; (3) talk to a real estate lawyer in your area.
     

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