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…


Homeowner Must Prevent Tree Damage to Neighbor’s Home

By Christopher Combs | January 30, 2022

Question: Our Chandler neighbor has two large eucalyptus trees in his back yard. Especially in the monsoon season, these trees shed a large number of seeds and leaves, and occasionally a branch, into our swimming pool and back yard. The owner of this Chandler home lives in Chicago and does short-term rentals of the home. He has refused to do anything, and now won’t even respond to our emails. How can we prevent future damage to our swimming pool, our back yard, and even to our home, caused by the seeds, leaves, and branches from these two eucalyptus trees? Answer:…


Short-Term Rental Would Not Be ‘Grandfathered’

By Christopher Combs | December 26, 2021

Question: We have owned our Gilbert home for 30 years. In the last 2 years we have been the unfortunate neighbors of a short-term rental home. This short-term rental home has been a nightmare with parties every night, police being called, etc. If our community amends our CC&Rs to prohibit short-term rentals, is the neighboring short-term rental home “grandfathered” or will the short-term rentals have to stop? If the short-term rental home is not stopped, we want to sell our home. Will we have to disclose this short-term rental home? Answer: First, if the CC&Rs are amended to prohibit short-term…