open land

Payment of Maintenance Costs Due to Increased Use of an Easement

By Christopher Combs | August 13, 2023

Question: We have owned a home in Casa Grande for 12 years. We have regularly maintained and have a recorded access easement (“Easement”) for a 30’ wide dirt road over our neighbor’s land to the main highway. A Phoenix developer has purchased 40 acres near us for a 20-home subdivision. The best access for these 20 homes to the main highway is probably over our Easement. Will this developer, and the subsequent 20 homeowners, be allowed to use our Easement for access to the main highway? If so, who pays for the increased cost of maintaining the Easement because of…


Ownership of Encroachment by Adverse Possession

By Christopher Combs | July 23, 2023

Question: Four years ago we purchased Lot 7 in our Mesa subdivision that had been developed more than 30 years ago. In the last 30 years, there have been numerous owners of both Lot 7 and Lot 8. The Lot 8 owner recently had a survey done because he wants to build a gazebo in his backyard. This survey showed that the common wall between our two lots encroaches four feet onto Lot 8. The Lot 8 owner emailed us that he will pay for the cost to move the common wall back to the original property line between Lot…


Neighboring Owner Could be Forced to Treat Home for Termites

By Christopher Combs | April 9, 2023

Question: We live in a nice Surprise neighborhood. Most of our neighbors are wonderful people who take great pride in their homes. The home next to us, however, is vacant and in poor condition. This home now has termites. The owner of the home, who lives in Chicago most of the year, does not want to pay for the treatment of the termite problem. If there is not any treatment, our pest control company has said that we will eventually have a termite problem in our home. Can we require this Chicago owner to treat his home for termites? Answer:…


A Path is Blocked After 40 Years. What’s Our Legal Right?

By Christopher Combs | March 26, 2023

Question: We have a cabin in the White Mountains near Heber. My wife’s grandfather built the cabin in the 1980s. Although we go up to the cabin every weekend in the summer, the rest of the year we only occasionally go up to the cabin. There is a footpath to a creek about 50 yards away from our cabin. The kids have always used this footpath to the creek when we stay at our cabin. The last time that we went to our cabin, however, the kids couldn’t get to the creek because there was a fence blocking the footpath.…


“Burned Down Eyesore” in Neighborhood

By Christopher Combs | March 5, 2023

Question: We live in a nice Gilbert neighborhood. Last year the home next to us burned down. The California owner of the home emailed us that he has no immediate plans to either build a new home, or sell to a buyer who will build a new home. The Town of Gilbert says that, unless there are safety issues, e.g., problems with the current chain-link fence around the burned down home, the Town of Gilbert can do nothing. This burned down home is an eyesore and will eventually lower property values in our neighborhood. Is there anything that we can…


Private Condemnation for Access Should Be Transferable to a New Buyer

By Christopher Combs | January 29, 2023

Question: In a recent column you discussed the rights of two brothers who inherited 20 acres of land in Prescott Valley that was “landlocked”, i.e., no legal access to a public highway. You said that the two brothers had the right of private condemnation over the land of the owner of a 5-acre lot between their 20 acres and a public highway. You then said that, after acquiring legal access by private condemnation, the two brothers could then transfer this legal access to a buyer of their 20 acres. I am a real estate lawyer. Are you aware that last…


Private Condemnation and Landlocked Parcels

By Christopher Combs | January 15, 2023

Question: My brother and I recently inherited from our parents a 20-acre parcel of land (“20 Acres”) in the Prescott Valley area of Yavapai County. Our parents bought this 20 Acres back in the 1970s from Ned Warren, the “King of Land Fraud.” This 20 Acres has no legal access to a public highway. Although my brother and I have visited this 20 Acres several times over the years, on our last visit the dirt road that we had always used for access to the 20 Acres was blocked by a home on a 5-acre lot. We want to sell…


Encroaching Storage Shed Should Not Have to Be Torn Down

By Christopher Combs | December 25, 2022

Question: After we purchased our home in Litchfield Park last summer, we built a large and expensive storage shed in our backyard. We recently received a letter from the owner of the neighboring lot that, in preparation for the building of his new home, a survey has shown that our storage shed encroaches one foot into his backyard. The owner of this neighboring lot is now demanding that we tear down our storage shed. Will we have to tear down our storage shed? Answer: The test is one of reasonableness. For example, if a survey shows that a 30-story Phoenix…