They say that “good fences make good neighbors.” In a case recently heard by the Rhode Island Superior Court, the fence was part of the problem. This case illustrates many of the concepts of real estate law, although of course only your experienced Rhode Island real estate attorney can tell you how the law will apply in your specific circumstances.
The Facts of the Case
The parties are feuding over the use of an 18 foot right of way easement. An easement is the legal entitlement of one party to access the property of another. Generally, an easement is granted when it is impossible for a party to get to a road without traveling on the property of another.
Here, the plaintiff and the defendant both live in the same subdivision that was originally owned by a couple and then sold to a developer. All of the lots abut the road, but due to the conditions of the land, some of the residents had to access a road via an easement. This includes the “Lot 3” residents. They have a half circle driveway that connected to the disputed property. After the Lot 3 residents had lived there for about a year and a half, the “Lot 4” residents put up a fence and other barriers that blocked off access to the disputed area. This required people using Lot 3’s driveway to only have one way in and out and now busses, including the bus that picked up the resident’s disabled child, to turn around on a steep hill.
One of the major issues in this case is whether Lot 3 ever had a legal right of way to begin with. Initially, the plans and deeds included this easement. However, in the final agreement between the residents and developer, the easement was not included. The Lot 4 residents explained that no one else who lived in Lot 3 had ever used that easement and the plans are clear. However, the Lot 3 residents argue that they need to use the easement as it is the only practical way to access their property. Further, they argued that the sellers intended to include the easement.
The court looked at the doctrine of “incipient dedication.” This requires an obvious intent of the landowner and an acceptance by the public that a dedication (in this case essentially an easement), has been granted. The court here held this did not apply. They also looked at the implied easement doctrine which requires apparent, continuous, and reasonably necessary use of the easement. The court here held that the developers meant to include the easement and thus the easement existed. Therefore, they granted the injunction asked for by the Lot 3 residents and the Lot 4 residents needed to remove the obstructions they put up and leave the area clear for use by Lot 3.
Contact an Experienced Rhode Island Real Estate Attorney Today!
A property dispute with a neighbor can be very stressful, which is why you need skilled Rhode Island real estate attorneys on your side. Call (401) 300-4055 or use the form on this web site to contact the knowledgeable attorneys at Bilodeau Capalbo, LLC, today to schedule your free consultation.
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