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Yes, this is book research but I'm hoping you'll help me anyway

Discussion in 'Easements & Right of Way Law' started by cbg, Nov 10, 2017.

  1. cbg

    cbg Law Topic Starter Super Moderator

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    Jurisdiction:
    Maine
    I have done my initial research but I am decidedly weak on real estate law. I got ignored "down the street" save for a single bump that I asked a friend for. I think I know the answer but I want to be sure I am reading the law right as I am not familiar with the terminology.

    Ed owns a piece of land, on which he lives. George owns the land beyond Ed's. George's land is completely undeveloped. George's land can only be reached by crossing Ed's. Repeat, George's land is completely undeveloped. He does not live on the land in question. Ed does live on his land.

    Prior to George taking ownership, Ed had always permitted people to cross his land to reach the undeveloped area. (It's a favorite make-out spot overlooking the water via a fire road.)

    Let us suppose that Ed has permitted this for the 20 years required for an easement to be established. Ed dies and in his will, leaves his land to Jesse. Can Jesse put up No Trespassing signs and block any further access? If he can't, does it matter how much under the 20 years Ed permitted the access before his death?

    It makes no never-mind to me and to my storyline how long Ed has permitted access. What I am looking for is a legal way that Jesse (who is the good guy, however it sounds above) can be permitted to block George's access. George and Jesse are in a standoff, each trying to buy the land of the other; I need Jesse to win.
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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  3. cbg

    cbg Law Topic Starter Super Moderator

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    That's very helpful, AJ, thank you very much. That article raises a point that I had not previously considered - George had only owned the land for a few months before Ed passed away and left the adjoining land to Jesse. Prior to Ed's death George had been pressuring him for a sale to the point that Ed was getting ready to hire a lawyer to protect his rights. No one (other than whatever lawyer did the title search) knows for sure who George bought the land from or who owed it previously, but it is suspected to be William. If so, William died only a few weeks before Ed did. Does any of that change anything?
     
  4. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Only way? That could only be true if Ed's property completely surrounds George's property. Is that the case? In any event, this raises the issue of an easement by necessity.

    Can he? Sure. However...

    Probably not going to happen. The public accessing George's property isn't particularly relevant to the issue of whether George has an easement by necessity.

    Perhaps the most likely way for that to happen is for George to have another feasible way of accessing his land.

    I can't see why it would matter, but chain of title is incredibly easy to research (especially for George, who presumably has the original or a copy of the deed by which he acquired title), so I wouldn't think lack of knowledge of that would be something on which to build a good story.
     
  5. cbg

    cbg Law Topic Starter Super Moderator

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    Ouch. That's going to make it tough. However, that's why I asked. Thanks!
     
  6. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    George does have access to his property by water, being that it sits on a lake.

    George need only prove open and notorious use, meaning that its generally know to the public how to access his property to buttress his claim of necessity.

    There are two other New England states that might work: Vermont or New Hampshire.

    Is Maine critical to your plot?

    As an author, you can also take literary license, you're writing a novel.

    You could also change the year to 1950 or 1965, predating the current law.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
  7. cbg

    cbg Law Topic Starter Super Moderator

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    Ocean, actually, but thanks, AJ.
     
  8. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Why?
     
  9. cbg

    cbg Law Topic Starter Super Moderator

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    Because that's the way the story line reads and it sets up the plot for the next book in the series..

    Besides, the reader doesn't know it yet (although hopefully they suspect) but George killed Ed trying to get hold of the property.

    Didn't see your later questions, AJ. This is part of a series, so both the state and the year are already established. I realize I'd forgotten to mention that this is on an island off the coast. NH doesn't have enough of a coastline and Vermont has none. Maine has lots and lots of islands off the coast - this is one of them. There is a point that juts out into the harbor creating something of a triangle; George owns the tip of the triangle and Ed/Jesse owns the base.
     
  10. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    How about a "SPOILER ALERT" warning?! ;-)

    As a legal matter, this could really complicate things. You'll have to balance getting the law right against the literary aspects.
     
  11. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Got it, very interesting.

    Not sure where it leads, but is intriguing.

    If you have a good plot, I wouldn't sweat the little details.

    I try to pick out the inconsistencies in old westerns, my wife even does it, but we still love binging on those old westerns. LOL
     
  12. cbg

    cbg Law Topic Starter Super Moderator

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    Sorry about the spoiler :)

    Thanks, guy, appreciate your help, both of you. I'll see what I can do to be as legally correct as possible without ruining the story line.
     

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