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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    2

    Default Easement Dispute Resulting in Threat of Quit Claim Deed Being Filed

    My question involves an easement in the state of: Arizona

    The neighbor added a bathroom and on the first day of construction they trenched into our property. One of the construction workers told us it was a line to tap into the city water line. It turned out to be a septic line. We asked them to remove it numerous times. Both parties filed a claim with the title insurance company (we have the same company) and we were both told there wasn't an easement allowing him to do that. The Planning and Zoning and department, after seeing there is no recorded easement on our property, ordered him to stop working on our property. We cut, capped and removed the line from our property. The homeowner then had the work completed on his side of the property line. After he passed the final inspection we received a letter from an attorney citing a docket from 1946, when the land was divided, that states that the properties have a 15 foot easement for the purpose of construction and the placement of public utilities but that the homeowner has the right to refuse access, if being reasonable. We were told a personal septic line doesn't qualify as a public utility. The letter we received from his attorney states that we have interfered and obstructed his client's right to use the easement and that a quit claim deed along with $5 is attached (neither were) and that we have 20 days to respond before it goes to court, and we are responsible for all court fees. Does this sound legal? We went to both the township office and the county office and there is no recorded easement. They said there isn't even a public utility easement on record for the existing power and water lines that pass along that stretch of our property.
    I don't understand what he is trying to accomplish with a quitclaim deed.
    Thank you for any help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    21

    Default Re: Easement Dispute Resulting in Threat of Quit Claim Deed Being Filed

    The attorney is blowing smoke. They do not have an easement based on what you have indicated. The quick claim deed is likely to have you give them an easement so you would be foolish to sign it. The $5 is the consideration to you for the grant ... required to make it legal.

    The utility easement is not transferable to the neighbor and the neighbors proposed use is not consistent with a public utility easement.

    You could respond to the attorney and invite him to court and counter claim your costs to date to remove the trespass and the cost to defend a merit-less action if he choses to bring one. You could also warn him that should he continue to peruse this line of behavior that you will file a complaint with the bar. That won't go anyplace but it will take an enormous amount of his time and he will have to deal with it. You win either way and it let's him know you won't be bullied.

    You can get started here: http://www.azbar.org/lawyerconcerns/...againstalawyer

    That should take care of it. Send your letter via certified mail, return receipt.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    74,875

    Default Re: Easement Dispute Resulting in Threat of Quit Claim Deed Being Filed

    If you take the sort of overboard response RexLan suggests, you're not going to scare the lawyer. If I got a letter like that I would take a "leave no stone unturned" approach to researching possible avenues to assert my client's rights, and might even offer them a discount on any litigation.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    21

    Default Re: Easement Dispute Resulting in Threat of Quit Claim Deed Being Filed

    Sort of a cheap shot Mr. K, bit so be it. It is not an overboard response at all IMO. Based on the facts presented, you can dig up the entire gravel pit but the results are the same.

    Any lawyer that would send someone a letter like that is a dirt bag to start with and deserves exactly this type of approach. Based on what OP said, it is abusive, sloppy and ignorant. Advocating for a client is well and good; however, that is not license to be a bully. This lawyer should have given his client good advice instead.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Easement Dispute Resulting in Threat of Quit Claim Deed Being Filed

    Thank you for your response. Can a lawyer with our title insurance company resolve this? It's been a week since I sent them the information. I called before the weekend and they said they would get back to me soon.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    2,376

    Default Re: Easement Dispute Resulting in Threat of Quit Claim Deed Being Filed

    Can a lawyer with our title insurance company resolve this?
    Possibly, but you cannot afford to count on that at this point. Residential title searches are usually limited in time period, many going back only 41 years. The company will typically disclaim any liability prior to that.

    Planning and Zoning departments have no qualification to make blanket statements about the existence of easements. It is perfectly plausible that a court may have created an easement in 1946. The entry may only exist in the court records, and nowhere else, but a court record is a valid public record subject to being researched and found by a title researcher. I have had to go to old (and even ancient) court records in doing title research.

    We were told a personal septic line doesn't qualify as a public utility.
    I'm wondering how an existing house needs an entirely new sewer connection in order to add one bathroom. I'm also wondering why it needs access across your property to somebody else's private septic or sewer system. Is there a public sewer system?

    What I am going to recommend is that you get your checkbook out and get your attorney on the phone. Make an appointment ASAP. You are going to need someone to research this docket entry from 1946, read it, and explain to you what it means.

    Your neighbor already has an investment in his remodeling and his lawyer. You are going to have to spend some money now or just roll over. Your lawyer can advise you of your actual situation, deal with the neighbor's attorney, and deal with the title company.

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