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Property Survey Shows Easement Far Away from Driveway

Discussion in 'Easements & Right of Way Law' started by Diane Emerson, Feb 21, 2021.

  1. Diane Emerson

    Diane Emerson Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    Washington
    The owner of a piece of property behind us, who we have never met in over 17 years, showed up and is selling their property. They had it surveyed, and the shared road that we and the next door neighbors have been using for many years turns out not to be on the easement for much of its length. The road is on the top of a narrow ridge, and the easement goes down the steep side of the ridge in places. Plus, it comes within 3 feet of our front door, and it now appears that we have been parking mostly in the easement for many years. Our parking spot does not block the access to the back property.

    The existing access road is mostly on our next door neighbor's property. They are fine with leaving it all as is, but who knows when the back property is sold. Can we do anything to prevent the current access road to be widened to its full extent, which will bring it almost to our front door, and eliminate our parking spot?
     
  2. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    A lot depends on the terms and conditions of the recorded easement document which we cannot analyze for you.

    Print it out from the county records and have a real estate attorney advise you of the potential consequences of the easement situation.
     
    Diane Emerson likes this.
  3. welkin

    welkin Active Member

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    While I agree with Jack's advice, the answer to your question is likely no. When there is a granted easement the dominant estate (the grantee/s of the easement) gets to use the full width of the easement if they choose to. If the road meanders on and off the easement then that complicates the situation because of prescriptive rights when the land has been used for more than 10 years (in the state of Washington).

    What makes you think that a buyer would want to spend the money to bring the road back into the easement? The expense would be theirs not yours. If it were me, I would wait until it becomes an issue and for now let sleeping dogs lie.
     
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  4. Diane Emerson

    Diane Emerson Law Topic Starter New Member

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    What makes you think that a buyer would want to spend the money to bring the road back into the easement? The expense would be theirs not yours. If it were me, I would wait until it becomes an issue and for now let sleeping dogs lie.[/QUOTE]

    Thank you for that answer. It makes sense, and is comforting. Now, here is a related question: The tall and very obvious stakes left by the surveyors on the easement boundaries: who has the right to remove these? One is located right where we park our car, very close to the front door, making it nearly impossible to park there now. The easement holder wants them all to stay, however long it takes to sell the property.
     
  5. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Removing the stakes is an incredibly bad idea. You could end up paying for another survey if there is a dispute. Leave them be.
     
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  6. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Showed up where?

    I'm sure you can, and if your neighbor is cooperative, now is the time to do it. Take the relevant documents (current deeds, the deed that created the easement, the survey documents, etc.) to a local real estate attorney for advice.
     
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  7. welkin

    welkin Active Member

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    It's also a crime.

    RCWs > Title 58 > Chapter 58.04 > Section 58.04.015

    58.04.011 << 58.04.015 >> 58.04.020




    RCW 58.04.015
    Disturbing a survey monument—Penalty—Cost.

    A person who intentionally disturbs a survey monument placed by a surveyor in the performance of the surveyor's duties is guilty of a gross misdemeanor and is liable for the cost of the reestablishment.
    [ 1996 c 160 § 5.]
     
  8. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    A temporary stake in the ground is not a "survey monument".
     
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  9. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    For clarification: In this case, a temporary stake placed in the ground by the surveyor could be considered a "monument" while the survey is being conducted, but once the survey is concluded, the stake is no longer a "monument". The temporary monuments are intended to be markers only until a "project" is concluded, and if the survey is the entirety of the "project", then it is no longer a monument once the survey is completed.
     
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  10. Diane Emerson

    Diane Emerson Law Topic Starter New Member

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    That makes much more sense. 4 foot tall stakes with bright orange tape on them all through our front yard, driveway, and side yard for the rest of our lives makes no sense at all. Plus, the property behind us may not sell for years. Do the stakes need to be in place the entire time the property is for sale?
     
  11. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Safe to assume that these are merely personal opinions and not based on any Washington statutory or case law?
     
  12. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Nope - not a safe assumption.
     
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  13. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    OK. Which statutory or case authority did you base those statements on?
     
  14. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    RCW 58.09 (Chapter 58.09 RCW: SURVEYS—RECORDING) as well as research (admittedly brief) into the meaning of the word "monument" with regard to the "sound principles of land surveying".
     
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  15. welkin

    welkin Active Member

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    The project in this case is to create a survey for the sale of a property. If it were for a construction project, the project would be complete when construction was complete.

    You will notice that the statute I quoted does not differentiate between permanent and temporary monuments. Therefore, OP has no right to remove the stake unless the neighbor says it's OK to do so.
     
  16. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Did you find the definition of "monument" vs "marker"? I was conservative on that, but I actually believe that there is a difference.

    EDIT: Basically, every monument is a marker, but not every marker is a monument.
     
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