Owners should know their easements, says surveyor

Property owners can protect themselves from easement or property line disputes, says Jackson County Surveyor Kerry Bradshaw.

"Get the facts, hire professional people," he said. "You need to know what those easements are."

A rural property can have a half dozen or more easements. Some are straightforward enough — allowing the power company to run electricity over a property, for example. But others can be vague, describing in general terms where the right of way goes across a property but failing to say who the easement benefits.

One Ashland woman tried to sell her house recently but discovered she didn't have written easements across five properties to access her land. A new buyer would need the easements to qualify for a loan.

She asked the neighbors if they would agree to give her the easements, Bradshaw said. Four said yes, but one said he would sign only if she agreed to pay $3,000.

The woman didn't have the money. Fortunately, she found a buyer who was willing to pay cash and wasn't concerned about the easement issue.

Bradshaw said even the county runs into problems. A recent survey on county-owned property in east Medford showed that an easement was not where officials thought it was.

Bradshaw recommends prospective property buyers read all the documentation relating to the easement or hire an attorney to interpret it. If necessary, they should hire a surveyor to determine where the easement is located. The same professionals should be hired to help resolve problems. The next resort is the courts, he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476, or e-mail dmann@mailtribune.com.

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