What to Do About Neighbor-Controlled Easement Near My Property?

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“I have a house on a lake, and next to the lot is an easement. The people across the street say that the easement is a deeded easement and it is on all of their titles so they have a right to put a dock on the easement. I would not have a problem with that, except that the dock is only about half a foot away from my property line. Are they able to put the dock on the easement legally?”

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There are actually two questions here.  First, can you stop them from putting the dock on the easement?  Answer: probably not.  You’ll need to take a look at the easement document itself, but unless it specifies some limits on where they can put the dock (such as not less than X feet from the property line), then you’re probably out of luck there.  It wouldn’t hurt, of course, to have a local attorney review the easement document as well; there may be some defect or some local rule of interpretation that affects the outcome, as well.

But the second question is, can someone else stop them, such as the city our county?  That answer is less clear.  You’ll need to review any applicable building and zoning laws to determine what is allowed, but it’s not unusual for there to be rules preventing structures being built within a certain distance of a property line (a “setback”).  If there is such a rule in your area, that may get you the result you want, even if it’s not because of the easement.

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Author: House Attorney

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