Our insane neighbor is saying we cannot use her driveway to access our garage, and has threatened to call the police for trespassing if we use it. She has also started blocking the mouth of the DW with her van. We showed her the copy of the easement, but she is claiming she never received notice of the easement when she bought the home ~1 year ago. The other issue is that the easement contract does not list our name, but does have a stipulation that is worded something to the extent of the easement shall remain in-effect as long as the structure (our garage) exists, and it shall be passed on the heirs of the property. What are some short term solutions? If this goes to court, how long does it take to resolve? Based on the background, what are our chances of the courts siding with us? Thank
Financial Markets and Services Attorney
The easment should be on her title/deed. she would have had constructive notice of it then.
short term solution pull the deed/title from the county and see if it exists.
Speak nicely to her and ask permission.
If it goes to court - it could take a significant amount of time and energy. You will most likely need an attorney.
The first thing you need to do is verify that the easement is "of record." Minnesota has two title record systems, registered and abstract, so you will need to check with the appropriate county office for property records and find out if the easement is of record. If it is, then you have a really strong case; if it isn't, then you will have a much more difficult case, but all is not lost.
Take the document and your title abstract to a local real estate attorney for review.
As my colleagues have indicated, you want to ensure that the document was filed prior to your present neighbor's purchase. If it was not, you may have a problem. You also want to ensure that the document is an easement and not a license. A valid easement would run with the land and would be irrevocable. A license is revocable.
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Real Estate Attorney
You should definitely consult with a local attorney in your area that has experience with easement disputes. He or she will confirm if the easement is "of record" and binding on the neighbor regardless of what the neighbor is now claiming. In my experience, because litigation is expensive and impactful for all parties, there is a high likelihood that a strong letter from your attorney warning of the consequences of interfering with your rights of access on the driveway will work and avoid litigation.