Two of the three lot owners in a subdivision had a dispute over a driveway easement and boat slips.  Lot 2 was contracted to be sold first and it included a driveway easement on Lot 1 and Slip A (the one with the boat lift).  When Lot 2 was deeded, however, Slip C was on the deed (no boat lift).  Lot 2 used Slip A, but when Lot 1 was later sold, that deed stated Slip A.  Despite what was on the deeds, after Lot 1 was sold its owner used Slip C, as he was apparently aware of the error on the Lot 2 deed.  Later a dispute broke out over whether the driveway easement was simply for ingress or egress or included the right of Lot 2 to park vehicles on the driveway.  This resulted in Lot 1 filing suit for the court to determine the extent of the driveway easement and who owned which boat slip.
Continue Reading Driveway Easement and Boat Slips – Expensive Fighting

2021 Senate Bill 283 is being proposed to create Section 710.20 of the Wisconsin Statute relating to the maintenance and repair of private roads with access easements.  Essentially the bill, if passed into law, would require all persons that have a right to use a private road or driveway to contribute to the maintenance and repair costs.  If the parties have a written agreement as to how the costs should be shared, that written document would control.  In the absence of a written document, or the written document does not address the costs, the costs would be shared based on the amount and intensity of each person’s actual use. 
Continue Reading Wisconsin 2021 Senate Bill 283 – Maintenance and Repair of Private Roads

Facts

A dispute arose between four condominium associations within a master association as to obligations to pay for the maintenance, repair and upkeep of a roadway easement.  The road connected the four condos and other properties.  The master deeds for each association were recorded in the 1970s.  In 2013, Plaintiff, Bayberry Group, Inc. (“Bayberry”) sought an agreement to share the costs of the road.  As a result, a Common Area Maintenance Agreement (“CAM Agreement”) was created.  The CAM Agreement covered the road and the “lawns and entirety of any … landscaping in the roadway easement.”  A majority of the associations in the master association executed the CAM Agreement, but the four defendant associations did not.  The defendants also refused to pay their share of the fees under the CAM Agreement.  Bayberry filed suit alleging the road easement is a general common element of each of the associations.  Defendants answered denying any road easement as a common element.
Continue Reading Road Maintenance – Who Pays? (Duties under Association Documents and Case Law)

Summary

The Court of Appeals of Washington held that a lot owner was barred from claiming ownership of a strip of land after representing that the land was part of the adjacent lot, building a fence along the supposed boundary, allowing the adjacent lot owner to maintain and landscape up to the fence, abandoning the land, and causing the adjacent lot owner to rely on that representation.
Continue Reading This Land Is My Land, this Land is Your Land – Owner Loses Ownership of Land After Denying It Was Part of His Lot

Facts

The dispute in this case centered on what rights owners of lots that did not have frontage on a lake (“Non-Lake Lot Owners”) had to place a dock in the lake based on the restrictive rights for their homeowner’s association (“HOA”) which were recorded in 1922.  The HOA consisted of 146 lots.  All Non-Lake Lots were granted a perpetual easement over and across seven lakefront outlots for their use and enjoyment, including access to the lake.  Some of the Non-Lake Lot Owners construed this broadly enough that they installed a dock and used one of the outlots for activities unrelated to the water (picnics and such).  Plaintiff, a “Lake Lot Owner”, had a letter sent to the Non-Lake Lot Owner Defendants demanding that they stop using the outlot and remove the dock.  The parties disagreed.  Plaintiff sued.
Continue Reading HOAs & Riparian Rights-Can I Put a Dock Here?

Picture this: an urban condominium complex and neighboring apartment building, built by the same developer, with one parking garage between the two. The condominium owners were led to believe that the garage belonged to them as a common element; however, just before turning over control to the unit owners, the developer/declarant secretly recorded an easement over 40 parking spaces for the benefit of his neighboring apartment building (essentially, giving an easement to himself). The developer sat tight for a few years, and then asserted his easement rights out of the blue. 
Continue Reading Turnover From Developer—Unfair Easement