We live in a canyon in the mountains in CO and had a flood in 2013. Our neighbor across the street and up about 30 feet has gained an easement in front of our property (a large dirt shoulder right off the road). He claims he now owns this property and that we can no longer use it. He has now parked a boat there and told us not to park there for 3 months. What rights does he have? Does he really OWN this property? How do easements work? Are there certain restrictions as to how he can use this land and what say he has over us using it?
An easement involves the right to use property that you DO NOT own, so by definition he does not own the property he has an easement for. An easement allows a third party certain use of land that is supersedes the landowner's rights.
As for what this easement allows him to do with the part of your property that he is entitled to use, that depends on the nature of the easement. You would need to discuss with a real estate attorney - in detail - how the easement was created and what documentation supports it if you want to know what the limitations of the easement are.
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The first place you should look for this "easement" is in your title paperwork. If this is your land and you didn't grant an easement, then it's not going to be in your paperwork and may not exist. If this isn't your land, you can search for the easement in your county's Clerk and Recorder's office.
If you are really concerned, you should pay for an hour or two of a real estate attorney's time to assess your situation.
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