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  1. #1

    Default Right of Way Ownership Maine

    I have a couple of questions about a deeded right of way across our property. I live in the state of Maine, and our deed includes a very vague access. I was able to trace it back as far as 1945. It states there is a “right-of-way reserved for the benefit of (Lumber Company A), its successors and assigns for access to land lying westerly of the within conveyed premises.” It also says that the “said right-of-way is to be located over and across the within conveyed premises in such manner as not to interfere with the owners herein”.
    Lumber Company A does not exist anymore. Ownership of the property was transferred to a daughter of one of the owners of the company. The 100 acre parcel that the right-of-way was granted to was sold to a developer in 2000 or 2001, along with an adjoining parcel (which had been owned by another sister). The 100 acre parcel was landlocked at the time the easement was granted, but is not now, as it is part of a subdivision.
    We have owned the property about 20 years and we have allowed access once, in 2 areas of our property, so the sister could harvest lumber from the property.
    My questions are: Does the fact that the right of way was granted to a company rather than an individual change anything? In other words, does the right of way still exist? And which of the new property owners has rights to the easement? Since the original 100 acre parcel does not exist anymore, what happens to the right to pass? There are now 4 property owners that abut our property along that property line, and 7 property owners in all that now own what was the original parcel.
    Also, my understanding is that “right-of-way” and “easement” have different meanings, at least in this state. It seems to me that because the original mention of it in the deed is so vague that it was intended as an easement, not a right of way. Can anyone tell me if the term “right of way” as used in the language stated above in or before 1945 would be similar to the current meaning of the term?
    I’m sorry this is so long. Thanks for any help/ advice anyone can offer.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Right of Way Ownership Maine

    right-of-way reserved for the benefit of (Lumber Company A), its successors and assigns for access to land lying westerly of the within conveyed premises.” It also says that the “said right-of-way is to be located over and across the within conveyed premises in such manner as not to interfere with the owners herein”.
    The "heir and assigns" clause verifies that the right is hereditable and is passed to the current owners. That is not an issue.

    The fact that the original owner (the lumber company) does not exist any longer is irrelevant.

    The fact that the parcel was once landlocked, except for the right of way, is irrelevant, as the to existence of the deeded right of way.

    The term right of way and easement may have different terms in Maine but this is not an easement but a right of way as you have stated it.

    Any vagueness in the original grant will likely be interpreted in favor of the grantee, and not the grantor. But I am not an attorney or land surveyor in Maine so your mileage may vary.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Right of Way Ownership Maine

    Thank you for your prompt and direct reply. We're trying to get some things we've been told clarified before we meet with an attorney.

    Does anyone have any idea about which of the current owners of the property may use the access? As I said, there are now 6 lots that make up the original parcel and 4 of them abut our property. Do they all own have to agree on where it is used? Is it the one who asks first? The property owner with the most common boundry?

    Thanks again

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Ohio
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    Default Re: Right of Way Ownership Maine

    I would say that the current owners of properties which originally had easement rights still have those rights, regardless of later subdivisions. But I have already given my disclaimer as to being qualified in Maine.

    You will need to take the case to a local attorney who will find the easement agreements which we don't have before us, and who will be able to apply the laws of your state to your situation.

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