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  1. #1
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    Neighbor troubles

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

    My husband and I own a property that we are currently renting out. Our neighbor has sent us two letters through his lawyer, asking us to put new gravel down in front of our house. The road the property is on is all gravel, and there are only three properties. Our tenant says there is no problem. We also looked at the road and it is perfectly fine. Here is the letter:

    I represent your neighbor, [Neighbor's Name], owner of [address].

    [Neighbor's Name] is attempting to obtain your cooperation in helping to maintain the easement without having to resort to filing a lawsuit.

    You are the only owner that utilizes the easement that has not at least covered the roadway with stone in front of their house to prevent deterioration from water run off, problems of airborne dust from disturbances and use of the easement in front of your property and creation of potholes.

    Your failure to maintain the easement is causing a nuisance and depreciating the property values of the other owners.

    The other two easement-holders recently put down stone on the roadway abutting their lots which only cost $580. The area you must cover is only 12.5' x 50' or 625 square feet. The area covered in stone by the other owners was much larger. Therefore, your cost should be less than what they incurred.

    [Neighbor's name] is trying to resolve this matter amicably without resorting to litigation. If you do not take action to place stone down in the road bed in front of your lot within the next two weeks, [Neighbor's name] intends to file a lawsuit for your failure to maintain the easement and the creation of a nuisance.


    I checked with the township and it does not seem as though we are in violation of anything. This neighbor has consistently started issues with us in the past over nothing he had control over. It is very tiring and we just want him to leave us alone. We are not the only ones he has started problems with.

    My questions are:

    • Since this appears to be a baseless case, is my neighbor still able to file a lawsuit for this?
    • If this does progress, what type of lawyer do I need?
    • Is there anything we can do legally to stop him from constantly bothering us? It is becoming a nuisance to us and causing a great deal of stress.


  2. #2
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    Why aren't you maintaining your easement?


  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by xylene View Post
    Why aren't you maintaining your easement?
    That's the thing, it IS maintained. The property is perfectly fine. The neighbor has been trying to sell his house since 2012 for way more than it's worth. He gets mad and starts blaming other neighbors for baseless reasons. Also, he has put an unnecessary amount of gravel down over the past few years that it's almost too much.


  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by dsr1031 View Post
    That's the thing, it IS maintained. The property is perfectly fine. The neighbor has been trying to sell his house since 2012 for way more than it's worth. He gets mad and starts blaming other neighbors for baseless reasons. Also, he has put an unnecessary amount of gravel down over the past few years that it's almost too much.
    Are you a dominant tenant or the servient tenant? Where on the easement is your property located?


  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by quincy View Post
    Are you a dominant tenant or the servient tenant? Where on the easement is your property located?
    I guess this is where I get a little confused. Our street is a dead end (with a circle for turning around) and my property is at the end. We own all of the property in front of our house (which faces the street), but not the property on the circle. He has never had a reason to use the piece of the road on our side.


  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by dsr1031 View Post
    I guess this is where I get a little confused. Our street is a dead end (with a circle for turning around) and my property is at the end. We own all of the property in front of our house (which faces the street), but not the property on the circle. He has never had a reason to use the piece of the road on our side.
    I am trying to picture this. It sounds as if you own the road that leads from the main road (are the servient tenant) and the other property owners (the dominant tenants) need to use your road to access their properties that are located on a circle drive off your road. You must use the full length of the road to access your house and the other property owners must use your road up to the circle that is off your property.

    Is this accurate? If not, perhaps you can describe it a bit better for my understanding?

    Where is the property belonging to the complaining neighbor located?


  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by quincy View Post
    I am trying to picture this. It sounds as if you own the road that leads from the main road (are the servient tenant) and the other property owners (the dominant tenants) need to use your road to access their properties that are located on a circle drive off your road. You must use the full length of the road to access your house and the other property owners must use your road up to the circle that is off your property.

    Is this accurate? If not, perhaps you can describe it a bit better for my understanding?

    Where is the property belonging to the complaining neighbor located?
    Our street is a small, gravel road off of a main street. There are three properties: A house on the corner of our street and the main street [Property A], a house in the middle [Property B] and a house at the dead end next to the circle [Property C].

    We own Property C, the neighbor owns Property B.

    A and B never have a need to come down past our property because they all have driveways to pull in and out of. I hope that is a little more clear.


  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by quincy View Post
    I am trying to picture this. It sounds as if you own the road that leads from the main road (are the servient tenant) and the other property owners (the dominant tenants) need to use your road to access their properties that are located on a circle drive off your road. You must use the full length of the road to access your house and the other property owners must use your road up to the circle that is off your property.

    Is this accurate? If not, perhaps you can describe it a bit better for my understanding?

    Where is the property belonging to the complaining neighbor located?
    I read it as three houses in a row (perhaps far apart) on a gravel road, with a circle for turning at the end of the dead end. I read that OP's property is at the end (the dead end) and the other two houses are before him. They each own the part of the easement in front of their homes, making each of them both servient and dominant tenants of some part of the easement.


  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by LdiJ View Post
    I read it as three houses in a row (perhaps far apart) on a gravel road, with a circle for turning at the end of the dead end. I read that OP's property is at the end (the dead end) and the other two houses are before him. They each own the part of the easement in front of their homes, making each of them both servient and dominant tenants of some part of the easement.
    Yes, exactly.


  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by dsr1031 View Post
    Our street is a small, gravel road off of a main street. There are three properties: A house on the corner of our street and the main street [Property A], a house in the middle [Property B] and a house at the dead end next to the circle [Property C].

    We own Property C, the neighbor owns Property B.

    A and B never have a need to come down past our property because they all have driveways to pull in and out of. I hope that is a little more clear.
    Thanks for the clarification.

    So my understanding now is that property owners A, B and C can use the circle at the end of the road as a turnaround (this whether they use it or not) and neighbor B is complaining because, in order to use the circle, vehicles must drive past your house on a portion of the road he says is potholed and not graveled well enough.

    If neighbor B has evidence showing the puddling of water and potholes on your portion of the road then, yes, he can sue to recover any costs that he and A must bear to maintain your portion of the road.

    In the event of a lawsuit, you will want evidence of your own showing your portion of the road is well maintained and that there are no potholes or water runoff that create travel problems for those wanting access to the circle turnaround at the end of the road.

    If neighbor B's complaints are numerous and unwarranted and a disrupting nuisance, you can look at the possibility of a civil restraining order against him. Or you can, perhaps, try to find someone to purchase his property.

    Do you know who owns the road (e.g., a developer, property A, someone else)?


  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by quincy View Post
    Thanks for the clarification.

    So my understanding now is that property owners A, B and C can use the circle at the end of the road as a turnaround (this whether they use it or not) and neighbor B is complaining because, in order to use the circle, vehicles must drive past your house on a portion of the road he says is potholed and not graveled well enough.

    If neighbor B has evidence showing the puddling of water and potholes on your portion of the road then, yes, he can sue to recover any costs that he and A must bear to maintain your portion of the road.

    In the event of a lawsuit, you will want evidence of your own showing your portion of the road is well maintained and that there are no potholes or water runoff that create travel problems for those wanting access to the circle turnaround at the end of the road.

    If neighbor B's complaints are numerous and unwarranted and a disrupting nuisance, you can look at the possibility of a civil restraining order against him. Or you can, perhaps, try to find someone to purchase his property.

    Do you know who owns the road (e.g., a developer, property A, someone else)?
    Thank you for the response, that makes sense. I believe we all own part of the road. As far as the circle goes, that belongs to the township. I have plenty of photos showing that there are no potholes and no puddling of water. I can almost guarantee he just doesn't like how it looks now that he elected to put new gravel down in order to sell his house.


  12. #12
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    With some luck, neighbor B's house will sell and nice new neighbors will move in and neighbor B will become nothing more than a bad memory.

    Good luck.


  13. #13
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    If the circle is owned by the township, it might be worth a call to their maintenance people. Maybe it's actually right of way and not an easement. I see these terms confused often at the city I work for, even by our own employees.


  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by TimStudiesLaw View Post
    If the circle is owned by the township, it might be worth a call to their maintenance people. Maybe it's actually right of way and not an easement. I see these terms confused often at the city I work for, even by our own employees.
    I believe the Department of Public Works is responsible for maintaining township roads. I agree that dsr1031 might be smart to check with the township.


  15. #15
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    I thought maintaining township roads is government responsibility.


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