Legal Land Issues: Land Easements, Shortages in Purchased Acreage and Buying Land With a Partner

The Back to the Land column covers legal land issues, including shortages in purchased acreage; changing the location of an easement; buying land with a friend; a family feud over logging income and a shared contract.


| June/July 1997



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I am a real estate broker who deals exclusively with country land. There are just about as many questions regarding land ownership as there are landowners, and knowing what to do about a given situation can be difficult to determine.


PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

A veteran real-estate expert smoothes the wrinkles of land ownership in the Back to the Land column. This issue includes information on land easements, shortages in purchased acreage and buying land with a partner. 

The joys of living in the country are too numerous to mention, and the thrill of buying your first (or tenth) piece of land is unlike any other satisfaction in the world. In the many years I have been addressing the concerns of rural landowners, it has become clear to me that country landowners are even more interested in their real estate affairs than their urban counterparts. Unlike city dwellers, however, they have far too little information available to them, information which could not only make buying and selling vastly easier, but could go a long way toward solving any potential problems or disputes with neighbors. I can't begin to number the instances in which a problem easily avoided grew so troublesome that ultimately the expense of an attorney was necessary.

For instance: When buying or selling real estate how much of your situation should you tell your agent? What about buying with a partner? There are many considerations to co-ownership, and some work in the beginning will go far into the future, helping insure a successful relationship. Should you buy land with an easement over it, or a parcel that is served by an easement? Much trouble arises from easements but often they are a fact of country life and the problems must be dealt with in order to enjoy your land. Did you know that land ownership doesn't always include all of the rights to that land? How can you determine which rights you have or are buying? Often land is bought or sold on a real estate contract. What do you do when things go awry? What should you do with your deed?

I am a real estate broker who deals exclusively with country land. I am also co-owner, with my husband, of a ranch and timber tree farm. There are just about as many questions regarding land ownership as there are landowners, and knowing what to do about a given situation can be difficult to determine. It' s our hope that we can begin a dialogue within this column, so keep your questions coming. The answers will be of great interest to others dealing with similar problems, as well as to yourself.

There is a driveway easement through my land that serves another parcel. The recent purchasers of that parcel treat the easement as if it were their own deeded land, using it for parking, storage, etc., and are careless with their litter while crossing my land. Now they are talking about changing the location of the easement road. Do I have to let them? What can be done about this problem?  

Easements are one of the major causes of contention and hard feelings between rural neighbors, mostly through misunderstanding the nature of the beast. It is interesting to note that easement users often believe they have more rights to the easement land than the actual owner of the land. Some easement users sincerely believe they own the easement land outright. However, in reality there is little basis for this belief.





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