I recently purchased a home that was advertized by the realtor as being on 1.16 acres. It is in an unincorporated area. I’d been holding out for a place that was at least an acre, and was very happy to find this one. I told my fiance that the property didn’t look big enough to be an acre, but we figured I was just underestimating based upon my simply “eyeballing” the proprty. The day before the closing I received a new platt of survey confirming that the property is 1.16 acres. But much to my disappointment, I discovered that the main road used to access the home (and used by several hundred other homes) runs through our property. Not only that, a major road is also halfway on our proprty. We believe the major road was dedicated, but we know that the road running straight through our property was never dedicated. All of the homes that use it were originally supposed to come in from a different major street, but that required going over or under freight train tracks and–thirty or so years ago–the train company refused to allow that particular crossing of its tracks. People starting driving across the property that we now own. Eventually, the county paved it. So instead of 1.16 acres, we effectively have maybe 0.6 acres that we can actually use. As I said, the road was never dedicated. Do we have any recourse? Tax reduction, for example? Make them move the road?
What do you mean by “dedicated”?
This is a pretty complex property law issue and there are all kinds of possible issues involved. Frankly, I don’t think this kind of specific, individualised question is going to be answerable on this board.
In other words, you need a lawyer.
Did you check for easements?
" : an interest in land owned by another that entitles its holder to a specific limited use or enjoyment."
You can’t always “check” for rights that others might have to use your property. They don’t always have to be written down anywhere. You need a lawyer.
It seems you were aware of these issues before you handed over the money, didn’t get what you wanted but got what you saw.
I’m just a layman so I don’t know the legal term but I would say you are the stuckee.
Does your deed list any easements? If not you might sue the seller for a defective deed.
Both my wife and I work for County Government.
My take on it, at least in Colorado.
Yes you may be able to get a reduction in taxes. The property is not effectively as big as they may have it listed.
If the road has been there for thirty years, the people using it probably have a prescriptive right to it. Unless (here is the crazy part) they where given verbal permission to use the road. That permission may be able to be taken away, but good luck, I doubt each person using it was given permission.
If the use was notorious, no permission was given but no one told them to stop, you may not be able to do anything.
I would definetly get a lawyer. We had a similar thing happen to us when we sold some land. A neighboor was parking on a small bit of it where we thought he had a right to. He did not. I thought the people that bought the property where going to sue us. Wife had to testify and the whole sheebang.
This is an extremely specialized area of the law. You don’t say what state you are in, so I’m not going to make any comment about the law, other than to say that you need a lawyer, and you should ensure that the lawyer you choose has experience in this area.
You should get a lawyer knowledgeable in real estate law, but my off-hand opinion is that your are SOL. Whether or not the owners have been using it with permission is really immaterial if it has been used for a long time: with permission, a prescriptive right; without permission, an easement.
A fundamental caveat in buying property is to INSPECT the property. Some more caveats include: INSPECT, INSPECT, and INSPECT some more. You are responsible for doing this. If the seller has hidden defects, that is another story. But if there is a problem which is apparent upon INSPECTION, you are SOL. (Did I mention to inspect the property?)
To answer a prior post, “dedicate” means that the land is given to a municipality for maintenance and control: it is dedicated for public use.
Did I mention INSPECT. Even if the easement is not noted, if it is seen upon inspection, there would be no recourse.
If there is no written instrument of record creating the easement, it is still a valid easement if it has been used as such for any length of time without objection.
I should also mention (so I will) that one of the boilerplate exceptions in title insurance policies is: “Easements not of record.” Unless you get extended coverage, in which case the insurer will inspect the property itself (through an employee, of course).
It almost kinda’ sounds as if I need a lawyer…
Seriously, thank you all for the input.
FYI, the property is in Lake County, Illinois. There is no public record of an easement.
When time allows, and when motivation strikes hard enough, I will consult an attorney and post his take on the situation.
In the meantime, if knowing the state and county helps generate any more thoughts, please let me know.
That does help, as that’s the state I’m licensed in and therefore know most about. If you do decide to take this further, feel free to e-mail me and I may be able to point you in the right direction.
Disclaimer: IAAL, but not your lawyer, and nothing I’ve said should be considered legal advice to be relied upon.
Note: Legal rights do expire, though statutes of limitation and concepts like waiver or laches. If you are serious about this, delay is not your friend.