A Happy Ending to an Un-Neighborly Fight over a Sewer Easement
The Smiths bought a ranchette that had once been part of a larger parcel owned by their Seller. The property had been in Seller’s family for many years, and until the parcel was subdivided into two lots, the parcel consisted of the ranchette (where the Seller lived) and unimproved acreage. When the parcel was subdivided, Seller sold the unimproved lot to Jones, retaining the ranchette as their residence. Because the underground sewer pipes for the ranchette were buried under the lot, the grant deed to Jones stated the lot would be subject to a sewer easement for the benefit of the ranchette.
Seller later sold the ranchette to the Smiths. A few months later, the Smiths observed Jones pouring cement over the area where the underground sewer pipes are buried. Alarmed, the Smiths attempted to persuade Jones to stop paving over the area; in response, Jones served the Smiths with a lawsuit seeking to enjoin them from trespassing and accessing Jones’ property for purposes of maintaining and repairing the sewer pipes.
Fortunately for the Smiths, they had purchased a title policy from North American that provided affirmative coverage for their right to access the Jones lot for purposes of maintaining and repairing the sewer pipes. Instead of engaging in protracted and expensive litigation, the Smiths’ title company persuaded Jones to mediate the dispute. In the end, Jones agreed to share in the cost of installing a new sewer hookup for the ranchette. The Smiths and Jones could now live next door in harmony, without any hard feelings over the sewer easement, thanks to their title insurer.