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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012

    Default New Owner of Servient Estate Won't Honor Our Easement

    My question involves an easement in the state of: Maine
    We have a house on a piece of land that is adjacent to the property and house that was owned by my mother-in-law; this includes a deeded easement/right-of-way to our house. She passed away after taking a loan against the property up to the front of our house, her house was foreclosed on and sold at auction, and the new owner claims the right of way/ easement that is clearly shown in each deed transfer is no longer valid and that our property is now “land-locked”. From what I have been able to find out on my own, his claim does not seem to be legal in any way. However, he will not cooperate at all and we are unsure what to do!
    We had to move out of our house temporarily because the town is requiring us to put in a new septic system so we are renting as well but it is killing us financially. Therefore, when we made an appointment with the surveyor/ septic system designer, we met him at our property and before we could walk down so he could survey, etc, the new owner of my mother in laws house ran outside. He then claimed that “we were technically trespassing every time we walked across the right of way and said he would call the sheriff if we tried to go down and get the septic started (up until this point, he never had any issue/objection to us walking down the area that has always been our right of way).
    We own the property, are paying on the mortgage, paying taxes on this house, however, we are being told that we may or may not have access to our house and it is a land-locked property. The property has been in our family for several generations- it was first one parcel, then a couple generations ago, it was split up so that our house/property became its own separate parcel of land with a deeded right-of-way. The right-of-way is clearly addressed in each deed transfer that has occurred over the many years the land has been in our family. Even so, the new owner of my mother in law’s house is claiming that we are “trespassing” by walking from our driveway at the top of the property, down through the right of way we have always used to get to our house.
    We are trying to get back into the house temporarily while we list it on the market because we CANNOT afford rent and a mortgage! Ultimately, because of the new neighbor and other factors, we wish to sell since it is no longer a dual-family property, however, the new neighbor is hoping that by trying to keep us out of the house for as long as possible, the house will go into foreclosure so he can buy it very cheaply at auction. The town is saying that as soon as we get a design for the new septic system, we are legally cleared to move back in, but the neighbor is fighting us every step of the way all of a sudden. What rights do we have in this situation- especially in relation to the new owner of my mother-n-laws property? We do not intend to accept his offer of $30,000 because our property is valued at 90,000 and we still owe $23,000 on our mortgage.
    Our long-time family lawyer suddenly closed his practice and we cannot find him for advice, so we have tried contacting our credit union regarding our loan/mortgage with them, talking to the new neighbor, the town, etc. None of this has resulted in any sort of resolution – we cannot get our septic design to move back in because of the threats the neighbor made about it being “trespassing”, but we cannot move back in until this is completed. What do we do? We have very little money to hire a lawyer because we are paying bills for two households on disability income and the thought of losing the house we put so much into over our lives is devastating. Any help/ advice would be greatly appreciated- thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: New Owner of Servient Estate Won't Honor Our Easement

    If you have a deeded right-of-way, then that's what you have. If the new owner won't permit its use, or interferes with its use, you can take him to court.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Re: New Owner of Servient Estate Won't Honor Our Easement

    so, what did the surveyor say about the easement or was that for the septic only?

    If you have not had a survey since the easement was created, you really need to have your lot surveyed so you know exactly where the easement is located. Once you know where that is and the rights afforded you by the easement (speak with the surveyor about that as well), you will know what you can and cannot do.

    If the easement is as you believe it to be, simply use it. If the neighbors have a problem, let them call the police. Make sure the surveyor leaves visible markers so you can show the police what the surveyor laid out as your easement. At that point, the police should either support you (not likely) or remove themselves from the situation altogether and tell the parties to take to a civil court judge.

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