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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2011

    Default Sewer Line Placed Outside of Easement - Can the Utility Claim a Prescriptive Easement

    My question involves an easement in the state of:My question involves an easement in the state of: Missouri Ė Six months ago I bought a home in Missouri from Freddie Mac. At the time there was some concern whether the house was hooked up to a septic tank or the main sewer. No one seemed to have any idea until we contacted the sewer company. They informed the real estate agent about a week before closing that there was an illegal hook up to their sewer from the house that I was going to purchase. They said they did a smoke test and confirmed that the service line was in. Well, I knew that there was a large manhole on the property that was located at the very edge of my property line. I went down to the county to find out if they had an easement registered for that pipe and it showed that the former owner sold a small portion of land close to the property line. Well, I thought, "it's out the way, the manhole didn't take up much room and it was practically invisible on my property. But I was concerned about the lateral going to the main from my house because I wanted to put in a swimming pool.
    So, after I bought the property, I asked the sewer company to mark the service lateral so I could safely dig. To my surprise, I found green flags cutting across my property, dividing it in two. When I went to the sewer company and asked them why they didn't mark my lateral all the way to the house, they said, "We don't marked the service lateral going to our main. We just mark the main. This is when I realized that they had cut across my property with another main service line which wasn't registered with the County as an easement. I went back to the sewer company and asked them if they had a legal easement on record for the pipe that crossed my backyard. Their answer was they had a prescription to put their pipe across my property. And I found out this is what they told the previous owners. But my understanding of prescription is a direct path to their equipment or their service with vehicles and men. That would have been on the other side of my property along the dry creek bed where the easement is for the manhole. What burns me up is there was a built-in easement already on the record when the plat was established but that wasn't utilized.
    A neighbor told me the previous owner had been told he would get free sewer service for letting them put the pipe there, but there is no written record of this. Nine years after the pipe was placed in the ground, the house went into bankruptcy and the issue of an illegal sewer hookup was brought up at the closing. The amount of $3462.00 was paid by Freddie Mac because of threats of putting a lien on the property by the sewer company. As I talk to more of the neighbors and after doing research on my own, I'm convinced that the sewer company knew all along about the illegal hook up and decided to keep quiet until the property changed hands.
    This was their chance to try to recoup money lost the year that the property was up for sale and establish the new service so they could start charging for what they were giving away free all along. Would this not constitute a conspiracy to defraud a federal agency? And since it was an illegal act from the start, wouldn't I have a legal standing in the way of an injunction or even charge them rent for use of my land or some kind of settlement? The sewer company is very smug about this. They basically said there's nothing I can do about it. Well I'm hoping to wipe that smug smile off their faces. Any suggestions? Thank you.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: Sewer Line Placed Outside of Easement - Can the Utility Claim a Prescriptive Ease

    If the previous owner agreed to the placement of the sewer line, the utility company had permission to place it there and you have no basis to compel them to move it. If the previous owner did this in order to make it cheaper to connect his home to the sewer line via an illegal hookup, that would further explain why he gave permission for the placement of the sewer line in that location. None of that would be the utility's fault.

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