Do I Need to Grant the Town the Right to an Easement on my Property? Can I Negotiate for Better Terms?

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“I purchased a commercial building in Maryland and attempted to get an occupancy permit for a tenant. The town conditioned approval with a request for me to grant easements to the town for the maintenance of sewer lines running under my property and to enter my property to inspect them. The easement language directs me to pay for the maintenance of the lines and failing to do so, they repair them and bill me. If I don’t pay they can lien the property; and I must hold them harmless. The sewer lines apparently serve residences in the area as well and are privately maintained and unmarked. I am told that they have been in place for more than twenty years. These easements, if granted, would severely limit my ability to add on to my building and park in my lot. If they don’t agree to negotiate more favorable terms (to me) can I cap off the sewer lines with impunity? May they condition an occupancy permit on an unrelated grant of an easement to them?”

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

To answer your second question first, it is not only possible but quite common for “unrelated” issues to be used as conditions for granting a permit. Sorry, but that’s the way things are. You can try to negotiate a bit, but ultimately you’re stuck with the deal they offer or not getting your permit.

As for capping the lines, I wouldn’t rush into doing that. There may be other rights already in place, and at a minimum you’re going to have some very upset neighbors when their toilets permanently back up.

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Author: House Attorney

A house attorney has answered this question.