We drive on an easement lane shared by 5 households in Washington state. The easements are in our deed.

If one owner or more wishes to improve such a well traveled lane, can a single other owner, or a minority of owners, block such an improvement. In short, how may decisions be made for such joint use property" Thanks

Olympia, WA -

Attorney Answers (2)

Michael Duane Daudt

Michael Duane Daudt

Real Estate Attorney - Seattle, WA

If there is nothing in the easement addressing this (which there usually isn't) and there is no joint maintenance agreement, what you are left with are general principles of easement and real estate law that are not going to give a very clear answer. In general, the beneficiaries of the easement have a right to "maintain" the easement, but not to "improve" it in the sense of changing it from gravel to pavement, for example. And if the proposed "improvement" means widening the traveled roadway, that can be done, but only to the extent that the user actually intends to use it for ingress and egress consistent with the scope of the use contemplated when it was granted.

Michael T Millar

Michael T Millar

Real Estate Attorney - Toms River, NJ

Unfortunately, there is no case or statute that I am aware of that will delineate who is responsible for what in the absence of a maintenance agreement for a multi-user right of way.

As a general proposition, all owners of the easement have an obligation to contribute to maintenance.

However, determining who is responsible for what amount is decided on a case by case basis and is dependent upon the facts of the situation. For example, a user who regularly utilizes the first 50 feet of a mile long right of way may not be responsible for maintaining the entire length of the right of way.

I am not a WA attorney, laws vary from state to state, therefore you should always consult a local attorney.

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An easement is a right to enter or use someone else's property for a specific reason. It remains in force even if the property is sold and is also transferable.

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