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  1. #1
    ame1209 is offline Junior Member
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    Apr 2012
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    Access to Right-of-Way Blocked/Claimed by Neighbor

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Pennsylvania

    We moved into a property 5 years ago, and were notified by the previous owner that there is a ‘right-of-way’ on one side of our property; however, this ‘right-of-way’ was taken over by our current neighbor many years prior, who claims it as their own, and increased the size of their driveway, and width of their yard. The neighbor, a lawyer (now deceased), and his wife put up a fence blocking access to the ‘right-of-way’ for our lot, and many others that used it to access their garages at one time. Our property is now land-locked, not only by this fence, but also trees that were erroneously planted.

    My concern is we cannot access our yard if/when we need, without seeking permission from this neighbor, who is rather nasty and spiteful (hence our concern). We have the deed to this ‘right-of-way’, which was signed over to us by the previous owner, who obtained it when they bought the home over 40 years ago. Not only do we believe that the fence is on our property line, but again it is also blocking our access to the ‘right-of-way’.

    If we survey our property, there is still no way to determine the actual property line of this neighbor, correct? We have checked with our township, and they do not show a record of this neighbor having claimed the right to this land, nor does it show the ‘right-a-way’ as part of their property etc.

    Is the neighbor covered by ‘Adverse Possession’? They are clearly encroaching on our property, as they put up a fence on property that did not belong to them (meaning the ‘right-of way’). From the little information I’ve provided, do we have a chance at re-claiming access to the ‘right-of-way’, and should we seek advice from a real estate lawyer?

    Any input is appreciated.
  2. #2
    justalayman is offline Senior Member
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    is this a municipal right of way or a private easement?

    Who, per the documents you have concerning the ROW, has the right to use the ROW (dominant tenant)

    If I understand you correctly, you own the dirt the ROW crosses which would make you the servient tenant.
    If we survey our property, there is still no way to determine the actual property line of this neighbor, correct?
    the survey will establish the property lines per the lot description on the deeds. Whether the neighbor has any claim to the area you speak of has still not been determined but would not show up on a survey establishing the line with the neighbor in the neighbors favor unless/until title to that area is in the neighbors name. As it stands, per your information, it should show up as your property.
  3. #3
    154NH773 is offline Member
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    An easement is not actual "ownership" of a piece of property. It is the right to use the property for some purpose.

    A survey will show exactly what you own in terms of property. An examination of the easement language will tell you where the easement is, who owns the property it lies on, what use may be made of it, and who is allowed to use it.

    All that being said; it sounds from your description that your previous neighbor gave you the right to use his property (by granting an easement to you), and now the current neighbor, who is the owner of the property is denying you the use of that easement.

    If that is the case, you may demand that the easement language be observed, and that any rights granted to you in that easement be allowed. If your neighbor disagrees, you may go to court to force him to comply with the terms of the easement.

    He has no right of adverse possession, since he must have "actual, continuous, exclusive, visible, notorious, distinct, and hostile possession" for a period of 21 years. You do not say how long this new neighbor has been there, but you said that the previous neighbor "signed over" the right-of-way only 5 years ago (which I'm assuming is a grant of the easement to you, and not the actual transfer of the property), which should make an adverse possession claim by your new neighbor impossible.

    If I were you, I would talk to a lawyer. You do not seem to have a good understanding of your rights and the law. If you do nothing, in time you may lose those rights.
    Last edited by 154NH773; 04-29-2012 at 11:19 PM.
  4. #4
    drewguy is offline Member
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    Mar 2008
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    As others said, you likely will need a lawyer to:

    1) Establish if there is a valid easement. If it shows on your deed, but is not recorded on the deed of your neighbor there may not be a valid easement. Or his deed may not have been properly recorded. You need to know this.
    2) Establish the location of the easement based on a survey, which will also establish whether the fence is on your property (although it sounds like they built the fence on the property line, thus preventing your access to this ROW.
    3) Take action against the neighbor, which probably starts with a letter and may turn into litigation.

    As 154NH says, you should act sooner rather than later. Although a neighbor cannot adversely possess an easement (the land is already theirs), you may be deemed to have abandoned it after 21 years of blockage. Unclear from your post if your neighbors and the previous owner have allowed this to continue for a while.

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