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  1. #1
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    Default Does a Neighboring Property Have to Grant a Utility Easement

    My question involves an easement in the state of: Michigan

    We own a home that had an ingress/egress easement in the legal description when we purchased it to allow our neighbor access to his land. We have been living here for 5 years and he is now wanting to build a home on his property. He has had a foundation poured, and they are starting to build his home, but he does not have a utility easement. He is now asking us to grant a utility easement and based on past experience with him,we are not willing to do this. He has not offered to negotiate any type of compensation for the easement, nor has he been honest with the utility company. He actually told the utility company that he owned the easement and he had the authority to allow them to run electricity over our land. So, my questions are: can we be forced to grant an easement? and Does the utility company have the authority to install power lines over our property without our permission? Thanks you!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Do We Have to Grant a Utility Easement

    Generally speaking, an Ingress Egress easement by itself does not at all allow for a general utility eaement.

    Does the utility company have the authority to install power lines over our property without our permission?
    It depends on the wording of the eaement, but if it is an ingrees-egress easment only it does not grant general utility rights.

    If you are the customer of a rural electric co-op, you might have already granted rights of access to other parcels per your agreement for service.

    We can't see that from here but your attorney will be able advise you further. The fact that someone has obtained a building permit does not by itself grant rights over your property.

    Good Luck!

    Get a local attorney ASAP.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Do We Have to Grant a Utility Easement

    Quote Quoting Mrgrt
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    My question involves an easement in the state of: Michigan

    We own a home that had an ingress/egress easement in the legal description when we purchased it to allow our neighbor access to his land. We have been living here for 5 years and he is now wanting to build a home on his property. He has had a foundation poured, and they are starting to build his home, but he does not have a utility easement. He is now asking us to grant a utility easement and based on past experience with him,we are not willing to do this. He has not offered to negotiate any type of compensation for the easement, nor has he been honest with the utility company. He actually told the utility company that he owned the easement and he had the authority to allow them to run electricity over our land. So, my questions are: can we be forced to grant an easement? and Does the utility company have the authority to install power lines over our property without our permission? Thanks you!
    One way or another he is going to get utilities on the property. Therefore one way or another he is going to be your neighbor. Is your reason for objecting worth the long term hostility?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Do We Have to Grant a Utility Easement

    another way to look at this situation is from a cost/benefit analysis.

    If you already dislike your neighbor imagine how you'll both feel after a possibly multi-year, multi-thousands of $$$ battle over the right to run utilities on the easement.

    If he sues you, you have going to be spending thousands to defend your property with no promise that you'll win in the end.

    You could offer to "sell" them an easement for a reasonable price or you can fight it out. Which option do you think will give you the most bang for the buck?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Do We Have to Grant a Utility Easement

    There are two ways that the Michigan courts could grant the utility easement over an existing ingress/egress easement. One is through platting according to the Land Division Act, MCL 560.101 et seq., and the other is by granting a utility easement by necessity. This was established in a 2007 case. Tomecek v. Bavas, 740 NW 2d 323 - Mich: Court of Appeals 2007


    Accordingly, the common-law doctrine of easement by necessity includes not only physical access to landlocked property, but also access to utilities for properties landlocked from utilities unless, consistent with the traditional principles of easement by necessity, the parties to the conveyance that left the property without such access "clearly indicate[d] that they intended a contrary result." See Chapdelaine, supra at 173, 635 N.W.2d 339. This declaration affords any owner of Michigan property who does not have access to utilities a potential implied right to such access, provided that there is no clear indication that a contrary result was intended and provided that access to utilities is necessary for the reasonable enjoyment of the property, given the location of the property and normal land uses in the community. This conclusion is consistent with both the principles underlying the doctrine of easement by necessity and the realities of modern life
    So while the facts of the granting language and the history of how the property became landlocked matters, there is a very good chance that you would lose any court action to establish the utility easement.

    I suggest you find a way to come to some agreement with the neighbor less you end up spending thousands of dollars on litigation and lose in the end.

    It's good advise to consult your local attorney for your options.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Do We Have to Grant a Utility Easement

    there is a very good chance that you would lose any court action to establish the utility easement.
    Looks like another case has been definitively decided.

    In actuality the case cited depends very strongly on the court's finding that the defendants (and other lot owners in the same plat) made use of the SAME KIND of drive easement to establish their own utility easements over a long time period and applying the Land Division Act. And the Presiding Judge posted an extensive dissent. There is no evidence in this thread of a similar situation which exists here or that the parcels in question fall under the Land Division Act. No one here knows any of that at this point so there is no conclusion as to chance.

    Regardless of the fact that the OP might eventually lose a court case down the road granting a utility easement to the neighbor, it is the neighbor who has the greater problem at this time. He might have a variety of problems. Having installed the foundation, he may now be at a standstill with a lender or a building department lacking a utility easement. We don't know any of that but a local attorney can quickly determine it. He has the bigger problem in any case.

    It is the OP who is in control of the situation at this point and in a better position to bargain. It's up to the neighbor to gin up a court case, and the OP with his attorney can deal with it as they see fit once it is filed. An attorney can probably delay things for months or even years. That presents a good opportunity to negotiate the least damaging and most protective easement to the OP. With such a devious and uncooperative neighbor, I would never advise a quick capitulation but eventually would offer an easement crafted by my attorney to grant the minimum reasonable requirements and specifically exclude items such as any expansion or use of the easement beyond necessity.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Do We Have to Grant a Utility Easement

    Quote Quoting LandSurveyor
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    In actuality the case cited depends very strongly on the court's finding that the defendants (and other lot owners in the same plat) made use of the SAME KIND of drive easement to establish their own utility easements over a long time period and applying the Land Division Act. And the Presiding Judge posted an extensive dissent. There is no evidence in this thread of a similar situation which exists here or that the parcels in question fall under the Land Division Act. No one here knows any of that at this point so there is no conclusion as to chance.
    Stare decisis is the legal principle of determining points in litigation according to precedent. The case sited was a first look, by the court, on the matter of granting an easement by necessity for utilities among other issues. That part of the case you didn't address. It is not unreasonable to base an opinion on the court's ruling.

    Quote Quoting budwad
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    So while the facts of the granting language and the history of how the property became landlocked matters, .
    I don't believe that a dissenting opinion makes law.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Do We Have to Grant a Utility Easement

    It is not unreasonable to base an opinion on the court's ruling.
    Only if the facts of the situations are relatable. Neither I or anyone here know all the facts of the OP's situation. I pointed out the facts which the court felt would be relatable, as they clearly based their opinion on them, and none of us here know whether these same facts exist or not in the OP's situation.

    Regardless of the fact that the OP might eventually lose a court case down the road granting a utility easement to the neighbor, it is the neighbor who has the greater problem at this time.
    That was the point of my thread. In my opinion, the OP might have no immediate compulsion at all to solve this, and is not well advised to look to a quick solution in order to avoid spending "thousands of dollars" to avoid a sure defeat in court. He is not on railroad tracks to court. He and his attorney should be running the railroad right now.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Do We Have to Grant a Utility Easement

    I do not disagree with your advise to the OP. I do however disagree that when case law (a first look) establishes a broad interpretation, that the facts of a new case have to be relatable to the facts of the case the ruling came from.

    This is the law the court handed down:

    the common-law doctrine of easement by necessity includes not only physical access to landlocked property, but also access to utilities for properties landlocked from utilities unless, consistent with the traditional principles of easement by necessity, the parties to the conveyance that left the property without such access "clearly indicate that they intended a contrary result."

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Do We Have to Grant a Utility Easement

    Quote Quoting budwad
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    I do not disagree with your advise to the OP. I do however disagree that when case law (a first look) establishes a broad interpretation, that the facts of a new case have to be relatable to the facts of the case the ruling came from.

    This is the law the court handed down:
    Well, that's what we disagree about. If you feel that the facts of the case do not have to be relatable (I have read the whole case, including the dissent) then we have a difference of opinion. For starters, I am not seeing that the OP has valuable beach front property on Lake Michigan. It's something else. We don't know what at this point, but the financial ability of either party to take it to court, and then maybe to an appellate court, does not seem assured. I'll stand by my previous post pointing out specific relatable items and not repeat it again.

    I appreciate your agreement about the advice. I would use this oppotunity to reitterate it, and advise the OP to work with the attorney to devise an easement document granting all that an easement by necessity might require, and protecting the OP from anything else. And we have not had anytyhing further from the OP at this point, including information about the possible involvement of a rural electric co-op, which situation might unhinge most of the previous discussion.

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