“I recently discovered that a contractor has run a water line to the house that he is building on property adjacent to ours. The contractor has placed this line inside the 10′ easement on our property rather than disturb the paving that covers the 10′ easement on the adjacent property. 1. Is this legal? 2. What should I do about this? 3. Does doing nothing allow the possibility of losing this property to the adjacent property? 4. If the water line is damaged or ruptures or through no fault or action on my part, causes damage to the adjacent property, would I be liable? 5. What would be a recommended course of action for me to undertake?
At this point, neither property is developed, however the property owner has contracted for his house to be built. We have talked to the contractors office and they say we are being un-reasonable, even though we have done nothing other than express our concern that they dug on our property without consulting us and we feel that this line should be relocated to the correct easement location.”
Well, it depends on what kind of easement the easement is. Does it allow for water lines? If not, then it has no right to be there.
What do you do at that point? Well, if you don’t object (legally) for long enough, the neighboring property could get an enforceable right to leave the pipe there (a prescriptive easement), so your choices are to raise a stink and maybe even a lawsuit, or . . . give permission. If you have a clear (written) record of having given permission, you can always revoke the permission later.
In this case, however, it seems like the developer is taking advantage and trying to backpedal when it’s pointed out. He trespassed on your property, damaged it, and left a nuisance behind. This would not be a difficult lawsuit to win, if it came to that, so you’ve got quite a bit of leverage to work out an agreement with him–perhaps creating a new easement which does allow the water pipe, in exchange for a reasonable cash payment.