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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Olympia, WA
    Posts
    1

    Default Neighbor is Partially Obstructing Driveway Easement to Landlocked Property

    My question involves an easement in the state of: Washington, Thurston County

    I own the landlocked property. The driveway is an easement across neighbor's property. Their fence is 4'10" into the 15' wide driveway. I have access to my property, but it is limited to the 10'2" wide, which provides a challenge for ingress/egress of larger vehicles. There is fencing on both sides of the driveway, as the other neighbor also has a fenced yard.

    I have owned my property for 2+ years, and the fence (and trees, which are on/over the proper line) were there when I moved in. The neighbor thusfar is not interested in moving the fence because they don't want to take down the trees that would need to be moved or cut down.

    The neighbor recently had a survey completed (recorded with the county) documenting the 15' wide easement location. They obtained the survey to address a fencing issue on the other side of their property. The fence in question has probably been there longer than the neighbors have been, and I believe they purchased the property about 10 years ago.

    I will definitely try "bribery" first, by offering to pay for a new cedar fence along the driveway and to pay for a new cedar fence (currently chainlink) for the line between our properties. However, based on their lack of response and interest in negotiation so far, I am not confident that will get the fence/trees moved.

    Legally, are they required to move the fence/trees out of the 15' wide easement area that is the only access to my landlocked property? Can you point me to the municiple/county codes, WACs, or RCWs for this? I have looked through all the ones I can find and just cannot seem to find anything specifically addressing this. Thank you in advance for any help you can provide!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    2,584

    Default Re: Neighbor is Partially Obstructing Driveway Easement to Landlocked Property

    What is the granting language of the easement? That would involve at least the intended purpose, whether it is exclusive or not, and the date it was established.

    If it is a valid express easement, you may well have the right to remove any obstructions in the 15' width which interfere with the use of the easement for it's intended purpose. You are probably not required to replace any of the obstructions you remove but you may be required to return the remains to the neighbor, who is their owner.

    You are only bidding against yourself if you offer to pay for a new cedar fence as a starting point. I recommend that you get a local attorney involved and have a letter sent from the attorney demanding that the obstructions be removed by a reasonable future date, or failing that you will remove them yourself without further notice, return the remains to the neighbor's property, and send the bill to the neighbor for the cost of removal, or whatever the attorney recommends.

    This should jump start the negotiation process, which is really the objective in a situation such as yours.

    Since the survey issue has already been addressed and resolved, you are ready to proceed. As to the state laws involved, I am not an attorney and am not a licensed surveyor in Washington. But easement law is frequently a common law issue and you will find nothing in the statutes if the state considers the common law sufficient.

    As you prepare for the negotiations, you might visit with the neighbor on the other side of your easement and ask about a price to purchase a 4' 10" easement from them including moving the fence. The cost might be reasonable enough for the problem neighbor to pay that as opposed to removing the trees etc.

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