“My neighbor has asked me to grant her an unrecorded easement that would provide emergency egress from her back yard, through my back yard, to the street. My neighbor intends to establish a residential day care service, but needs the emergency egress to comply with local fire ordinances.
It seems that I would be giving up substantial property rights were I to grant the easement, and that the unrecorded quality of the easement seems sneaky. What should I watch out for?”
You’re already on the right track. If she needs an easement in order to meet a governmental requirement, it would undoubtedtly be a recorded easement. I can’t imagine a government agency demanding a secret easement. This is fishy to begin with.
Get an attorney involved with this. At a minimum, the easement should be attorney-drafted, so it’s clear what rights you’re granting and what you aren’t–so you can enforce it later. Plus, you should be adequately compensated for granting this, so there’s no reason your neighbor shouldn’t cover the attorney fees. If she’s not willing to do that, then she isn’t paying you enough for the easement.