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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
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    2

    Default Who is Responsible to Maintain Trees and Vegetation in a Easement

    My question involves real estate located in the State of: Pennsylvania

    My property is the servient estate in a force main Sanitary Sewer Easement. The Easement runs over 400' along one of my property lines. It is 20' wide.

    The Easement was created in 2007. I purchased my property in 2013. The owners of the dominant estate purchase their property ~2015 (it's probably not relevant, but neither of the estates' current owners were present for the creation of the Easement).

    Per the written Easement, "Grantor, his successor and assigns shall not cause or permit any fence, wall, building, walkway, driveway, swimming pool, or other improvement or structure of any sorts to be built on the Easement."

    Also per the written Easement, "This Easement is for the exclusive benefit of the Grantees, Grantees' heirs, successors and assigns as owners of the Premises, and is appurtenant to and shall run with the Premises."

    Finally, per the written Easement, "Grantees shall maintain the Easement as Grantees deem reasonably fit. Grantees may permit any workmen: municipal representatives, agents, employees or workmen; or sewer authority representatives, agents, employees or workmen to enter into and upon the Easement for any purposes related to this Easement."

    Nearly all the trees within the Easement and along its trench-line are dead or dying. This year, 2 trees have fallen and damaged power lines and private utility poles that provide service to my house. I had to make the emergency repair. Some more trees will have to be removed because they threaten other utility lines, a Township sewer station, and my house.

    Does the agreement mandate that the grantees are responsible for maintenance? Basically, which estate is responsible for the trees located within the Easement?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    6,198

    Default Re: Maintenance of Sewer Easement Aboveground

    While the grant says "Grantees shall maintain the Easement as Grantees deem reasonably fit, it's still your property. You don't have to maintain the easement but you can if you want to with respect to taking down dead trees. The dead trees are causing a nescience and a danger to life and property. The words reasonably fit leave a bunch of wiggle room to the dominant estate. But you can make the case that it is a nescience and a danger to life and property.

    You could force the issue as to who is responsible to take down the dead trees by informing the dominant estate that if they don't maintain the easement you will and sue for the cost if not paid for by the neighbor. Then consult with a local attorney.

    You can also talk to the sewer authority and the electric utility. Do they also have granted easements either by your predecessors or the grantee's predecessors?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Maintenance of Sewer Easement Aboveground

    Quote Quoting budwad
    View Post
    While the grant says "Grantees shall maintain the Easement as Grantees deem reasonably fit, it's still your property. You don't have to maintain the easement but you can if you want to with respect to taking down dead trees. The dead trees are causing a nescience and a danger to life and property. The words reasonably fit leave a bunch of wiggle room to the dominant estate. But you can make the case that it is a nescience and a danger to life and property.

    You could force the issue as to who is responsible to take down the dead trees by informing the dominant estate that if they don't maintain the easement you will and sue for the cost if not paid for by the neighbor. Then consult with a local attorney.

    You can also talk to the sewer authority and the electric utility. Do they also have granted easements either by your predecessors or the grantee's predecessors?
    Thanks for the quick reply. Your take makes sense to me.

    Do you know of any PA case law that deals with this sort of situation? I've been able to find it for roads but not for sewer and the vegetation above.

    In this case, the sewer authority is the Township, and one of the largest and most expensive trees to remove is a nuisance and danger to the Township's sewer station, too. The tree is huge and sits at a vertex of three properties. It is also squarely in the easement. It cannot be simply dropped--it could fall on the sewer station or damage two different private sewer lines below. I have been told its cost to remove is $5,000 to $10,000, dependent upon the need for a 100 ton crane!

    Unless the title company missed them, there are not any other easements for sewer or electric (or any other kind) on the property. I am not aware of any others, anyway. Even the electric line doesn't seem to carry the usual right-of-way because we are two private poles in from the road (the electric company has told me that, with the exception of the transformer on the second pole and the meter on the house, its responsibility ends with the primary at the first private pole. I am asking for clarification on this.

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