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Driveway Easements
Old 11-01-2015, 06:54 PM   #1
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Driveway Easements

We are considering contacting our neighbor about establishing a 30" driveway easement (to allow us to widen our driveway) from the street in front of our houses to our houses (about 25 ft), down between our houses (about 30 ft) to the front our garage in our back yard (about 50 ft). Are there any folks out there with suggestions on how to go about estimating a reasonable amount to offer?

Any suggestions will be appreciated and thanks in advance,


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Old 11-01-2015, 08:35 PM   #2
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Calculating a fair offer would start with the value of the land measured in dollars per square foot. A perpetual easement reduces the seller's ability to use the land almost as much as a sale would.

Does your tax assessor split the land cost from the improvements in their market value estimates? Are there recent sales of vacant lots? Of "tear-down" houses? You should be able to figure a square foot price for your lot by any of those methods.

However, I would first check with the municipal or county permit office about your idea before you get to the point of making an offer. Also a contractor. There's no point in stirring the pot with your next door neighbor unless you've got some confirmation that your driveway plan can be legally and affordably carried through to completion.
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Old 11-01-2015, 11:25 PM   #3
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I assume you are not in a platted neighborhood... if so, I do not think you can do it.... but hey, I could be wrong...


I can tell you that I would not be interested in giving up any of my land unless I had many acres....
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Old 11-02-2015, 05:51 AM   #4
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I had a shared driveway in a previous house and it worked well. The easement was on both houses (mine and the neighbor's) so we each owned half the driveway. We got along great so there was never a problem.

I'm assuming this is not a shared driveway and is just for your own use. The easement can certainly work, but it seems to me you need to consider that although you may be on good terms with your neighbor now, that may not always be the case, especially if they sell to someone else. Such an easement could also scare off some potential buyers, which would cause them grief in the sale process. For those reasons, I would be reluctant to grant you the easement if I were the neighbor. 30 inches isn't much, but you would still be dependent on their goodwill to be able to use it.

As Robert Frost put it, "Good fences make good neighbors."
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Driveway Easement
Old 11-02-2015, 07:41 AM   #5
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Driveway Easement

HT,
Thanks for the suggestions, especially the part about checking with city hall and/or the county government. I agree, there's no point in stirring the pot unless we can actually go through with the plan.

TP,
Thanks as well.
Not sure what you mean by "platted neighborhood". Are you asking if the lots in our neighborhood have been surveyed and marked? If so, I think so. Every spring (the selling season) there are almost as many civil engineers and surveyors in our neighborhood as there were "trick or treaters" on Halloween. When they do the surveys, they always mark the borders with wooden stakes and most of the time with metal stakes they drive into the ground.

Re giving up a few inches of his land.....
Neighbor is an attorney who is always trying to find an angle to make a few bucks (he brags about them each morning in the coffee shop (our entertainment)). He currently needs cash, but can't sell the house (or any of his land) because somehow he worked out a scheme where he got a mortgage for far more than the house and land are worth. Not only that, his actual house would have negative value because it's in such poor shape he could only sell it as a tear down.

One of my fears is that he will get involved in some scheme where we wake up one morning and find an 8ft deep hole at the very edge of our existing driveway (only to have the driveway collapse into it) and then have to hassle with him and/or this buyer (or contractor) to repair it. So, as you may guess our motives are not just to widen our driveway so the DW can use it (her car only has about 6" of clearance on each side when she drives between the houses).

So,....
We have hopes (or dreams).

B,
Thanks to you as well.

While the neighbor is fun to banter with when we encounter him in the morning when he leaves for work and across the fence to discuss our solutiions to all the problems that ail our governments, what's wrong with the politicians, history, etc... I wouldn't exactly call him a good neighbor.

His house is falling down from the inside out (steps and flooring in the house are literally rotten), he leaves his back doors open all the time (so the dogs in his "kennel" can come and go as they please and there are literally animals, birds and insects living in the house with him (he actually likes all this, we have told him about the animals, he aknowleges that it's true and informs us that he likes it). His basement windows have rotted off their frames (thus providing another entrance into the house for the local wildlife). Not to mention that he hasn't cut his lawn more than once or twice per year for almost a decade and is raising a poison ivy/rhododendron farm....

So, we are expecting that if/when he ever moves and sells it will be to a contractor as a tear down.

As a result, I am especially curious about your comment that we would be dependent on our neighbor's goodwill to use the easment for our intentions. One of our goals is to protect ourselves from contractors tearing the house down and building a new one (should he ever sell).
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Old 11-02-2015, 08:23 AM   #6
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We have had two properties with easements.

When we bought our former home there was a fenced in pool area and it was not common in our area to get a survey done when buying a home. Our neighbor had built his house on the corner of his parent's farm. When that neighbor went to sell his house he had to get the house subdivided from the farm and had a survey done and the survey indicated that the former owner of our house had encroached on the farm in siting his pool and fenced in pool area. OTOH, the neighbor's driveway crossed our property. So we granted the neighbor an easement across our property for their driveway and they deeded us a small chunk (~1/8th acre) that encroached on the farm. Problem solved.

Our current house has a deeded easement for access via a private road that crosses 5 neighboring properties. We just share road maintenance 6 ways and it works fine.

Your neighbor being a lawyer smells like trouble to me.... but the fact that he needs cash may make him more agreeable. I would talk with a knowledgeable local appraisal expert to see what such an easement is worth before discussing it with him.

If your DW only has 6" on each side when she drives between the houses how can you widen the driveway?

Would you consider buying if he sells? Or perhaps negotiating a right of first refusal with the intent of then changing the property boundary and then selling to a contractor?
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Old 11-02-2015, 08:35 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Corporate ORphan View Post
I am especially curious about your comment that we would be dependent on our neighbor's goodwill to use the easement for our intentions.
What I meant was that if he decided (perversely) to place an obstruction on that area, you would be forced to employ legal means to get it removed. Possibly over and over. You would be successful, of course, but who needs the hassle?
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Old 11-02-2015, 12:22 PM   #8
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JMHO, I would prepare like this:

1] Consult with a seasoned real estate attorney, who would ultimately draw up and shepherd the docs if you choose to proceed.

2] Talk to city or county zoning authority to get an idea if losing the 30" would somehow impair the development potential of his property in the future. If no prospect of impairment, I agree with poster who proposed unit pricing per sq. ft. If impairment would result, you need to work out a price for that and have it up your sleave, consulting with say, a small local developer or spec builder. Development impairment is common in small lots , say 4 - 6k sf in city. My guess is you neighbor would try a shakedown unless he is on the edge of the abyss.

3]Determine if local, county, or state ordinance prohibits excavation at property lines that will endanger adjacent properties. The place I live will not permit excav. on property lines without adjacent prop. owner providing a letter of consent once the proposal to dig exceeds something like 4'. Consent is an election, not a requirement.

4] Once the easement is in your hand, record it and put up a sturdy fence to help prevent encroachment.
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Old 11-02-2015, 02:52 PM   #9
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....4] Once the easement is in your hand, record it and put up a sturdy fence to help prevent encroachment.
An easement is a right to cross the property. The easement holder would not have the right to place a fence on the property... the property still belongs to the owner and the owner has the right to use it too... it is just that the easement holder can use it as well.

In fact, if the OP wanted to put a fence up on the neighbor's property that would be a deal-killer to me if I was the neighbor.
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Old 11-02-2015, 06:22 PM   #10
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An easement is a right to cross the property. The easement holder would not have the right to place a fence on the property... the property still belongs to the owner and the owner has the right to use it too... it is just that the easement holder can use it as well.

In fact, if the OP wanted to put a fence up on the neighbor's property that would be a deal-killer to me if I was the neighbor.
Good point, I wasn't thinking there.
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