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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2020
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    Lightbulb Who is Responsible for Easement Maintenance

    My question involves real estate located in the State of: Pennsylvania
    The neighbors behind me have a right of way/easement to use a small alley that is on my property along the side of my house. They are not landlocked and their front door is on a different street. The owner of the property does not live there but rents it out; over the years there have been many different renters. I am not happy about having this situation as it potentially invades my privacy and decreases safety. My deed says nothing about them having a right of way, it just states that I own that alley. Their deed says they have use. The title to my house says they have rights of ingress and egress - an agreement that was made over 60 years ago. To be fair, the owner has agreed that his tenants will only use the alley if absolutely necessary and not as their main entrance to their house, they are not to store anything in the alley, and they cannot share the keypad code with anyone. I installed a security camera and none of his tenants have used the alley in over a year.

    It has recently come to my attention that it is typical for the dominant tenant - who has the easement rights - to maintain the easement. I - the servient tenant who owns the property - have been the one doing this all this time. I keep it clean, I replaced the door at the end of the alley and put in a new key pad lock, and recently I paid thousands of dollars to have the walls of the alley repaired, which has increased the safety of the area and made it more structurally sound. Is the dominant tenant responsible for any of the cost? Again, it is only recently that I happened upon the information of who typically maintains an easement.

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    18,302

    Default Re: Who is Responsible for Easement Maintenance

    It has recently come to my attention that it is typical for the dominant tenant - who has the easement rights - to maintain the easement.
    What's "typical" means nothing. What counts is what is written into the easement documents.

    So far all we know is that you own the alley and the neighbor has ingress and egress rights.

    Without a specific written obligation of the neighbor to maintain the easement you are going to have to find either a statutory obligation or case decisions that match your circumstances. For that you will probably need to hire a lawyer to find you obligations that will hold up in court.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    629

    Default Re: Who is Responsible for Easement Maintenance

    Quote Quoting NeuroBug1
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    My question involves real estate located in the State of: Pennsylvania
    It has recently come to my attention that it is typical for the dominant tenant - who has the easement rights - to maintain the easement. I - the servient tenant who owns the property - have been the one doing this all this time. I keep it clean, I replaced the door at the end of the alley and put in a new key pad lock, and recently I paid thousands of dollars to have the walls of the alley repaired, which has increased the safety of the area and made it more structurally sound. Is the dominant tenant responsible for any of the cost? Again, it is only recently that I happened upon the information of who typically maintains an easement.

    Thank you!
    Another issue you have here is what is considered maintenance? Normally it's related to issues that restrict the dominate tenants use of the easement as defined. So if they have ingress/egress rights and you get a snow storm they can't call you and say "the easement is snowed in and i can't get through, you need to clear the snow so I can get through" In an instance like this, normally you would not be responsible to clear the snow for them. If there are pieces of paper and coffee cups, bottles and cans blowing around in the easement and they can get through but you want it cleaned up then normally that would be up to you as that trash doesn't impede their use of the easement. Consider it to be wear and tear of the easement caused by their use that they may be responsible for.
    The matter also get complicated if you use the easement as well, in this case you will cause wear and tear so may have to share some of the cost/responsibility for maintaining the easement. But again the 'need' for maintenance, can be subjective. For instance if this is a gravel driveway that you share with the dominant tenant and a bunch of potholes develop, "when" these holes need to be repaired is subjective. The tenant drives a 4x4 truck and you drive a lowered sports car. In this case you each have different needs as far as patching these holes.

    In the end, if you want to solve this issue most likely you'll need to go to court over the issue. Think about how much that is going to cost you with no guarantee of a satisfactory out come.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2020
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    2

    Default Re: Who is Responsible for Easement Maintenance

    Thanks everyone, you've clarified this quite a bit. There is nothing - as far as I can see - in the title or their deed that mentions maintenance. I am fine with assuming the responsibility and I do keep it clean and repaired. It's a very narrow alley (25 inches) so there's no issue of cars going through, and they have not really used it. I use it occasionally e.g., to get my bike out.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    7,052

    Default Re: Who is Responsible for Easement Maintenance

    Quote Quoting NeuroBug1
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    My deed says nothing about them having a right of way, it just states that I own that alley. Their deed says they have use. The title to my house says they have rights of ingress and egress - an agreement that was made over 60 years ago. To be fair, the owner has agreed that his tenants will only use the alley if absolutely necessary and not as their main entrance to their house, they are not to store anything in the alley, and they cannot share the keypad code with anyone. I installed a security camera and none of his tenants have used the alley in over a year.
    Easements get created in various way. They can be by an express grant from a grantor to a grantee, they can be created by a court order or by prescription, they can be created by a recorded plat map. Not all easements address who is responsible to maintain the easement. You are correct that if a grant is silent on who maintains it, the standard (in case law) is that the dominant estate is responsible to maintain it for the purpose of the easement. In your case, it is for ingress and egress. Most easements are non-exclusive meaning both the servient and dominant estates have use of the property. So if you want to remove the snow to facilitate your use you do it. If not you don't. But you can't force the dominant estate to do it if it is not in the grant. It is up to the dominant estate to decide what has to be maintained for ingress and egress.

    Do you have the terms of the grant from the agreement made 60 years ago? If not, you should find it.



    Quote Quoting NeuroBug1
    View Post
    It has recently come to my attention that it is typical for the dominant tenant - who has the easement rights - to maintain the easement. I - the servient tenant who owns the property - have been the one doing this all this time. I keep it clean, I replaced the door at the end of the alley and put in a new key pad lock, and recently I paid thousands of dollars to have the walls of the alley repaired, which has increased the safety of the area and made it more structurally sound. Is the dominant tenant responsible for any of the cost? Again, it is only recently that I happened upon the information of who typically maintains an easement.

    Thank you!
    These are choices that you make because it is your property. What is the description of the alley? Does it include the walls of the alley? I wouldn't think so. But since the dominant estate hasn't used the alley in over a year I wouldn't much be worried about it.

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