The Thrilling and Wondrous World of Easements

Oh guys, I remember the first time I toured the Merc. It was so cute. After we walked through the building we went into the backyard and I thought, “WOW, look at all of this property! It’s a dream!” *Sigh* I was so young and naive.

When my real estate agent told me that everything the light touches is in fact NOT my property I was a little bummed. But I thought, its ok we don’t need that part, we can just put a wall up here, tear out the parking lot there, and voila! a yard.

Still so young, and still so naive.

My realtor then informed me that there was an easement but wasn’t sure of the specifics and would get all of the title information in the morning.

Well the next morning came and so did the information about the easement.

For those that maybe don’t understand what an easement means, let me enlighten you. An easement is a legally binding use that another person has to your property. Almost all property has an easement on it for utilities (like when the gas company comes over to read your meter) but this was a whole different beast.

As I mentioned in this post, the property lines for the Merc are bizarre. Here’s a pic to show you what our property is (the yellow) and our neighbor’s property is (the blue). Tetris much?

When it was surveyed in 2009 they discovered an encroachment on the property to the west. The owner of the property signed an easement with the owner of the Merc stating that he would grant them rights to the portion of his property that the Merc encroached on (it’s 1-2 ft wide along the building line) and in exchange they would grant him the right to an ingress/egress easement through the parking lot to get to the back portion of his property (the gravel area behind the Merc.) The easement is the green part of the picture.

And ingress/egress easement means that he doesn’t have the right to do anything but drive through the property, but that meant no wall, no demoing the parking lot, no nothing. Its also very strange but the easement goes through the actual parking stalls, even though you can’t drive there. #why The thing with easements is that the city has no input on them, so we can’t say “This is stupid, you can’t drive through parking stalls, change this…” Its a private matter between 2 property owners and needs to be dealt with through the legal system. At this point we’re not going to contest it, I don’t know if that will change but for now we’re not worrying about it. The only way for an easement to go away completely is if the property owner that uses the easement dissolves their rights or if at some point both properties become one. The thing with easements is that they are forever. So 150 years from now, the easement will still be in effect unless it has been dissolved.

Obviously not ideal.

The thing is, the Merc has been neglected for so long that a lot of stuff just hasn’t been important enough to fight for. Of course the neighbors use it for storage and parking and dumpsters, why wouldn’t they? We’re hoping that we can respectfully take back control of the way people use the property. The whole thing is a little stressful for me because we’re the new kids in town and we’re completely changing the way that the building is used. Its never been an issue to use the parking lot, because it was the store the Merc, but now its our house the Merc. Ya know?

The easement also states that the neighbor can paint the wall of the Merc that is on his property as long as its approved by the Heritage Committee. Which is why one side of the Merc looks like this:

And the other side looks like this:

If I’m being completely frank the easement was almost a deal breaker. We went back and forth on it for months and really genuinely almost walked away multiple times. I was frustrated because I knew the Merc was supposed to be our house in my heart of hearts and we had to decide if we were willing to move forward with faith, knowing it was, or if we were going to let something that didn’t work out perfectly from the beginning derail us.

After lots (and lots, and lots) of prayer we decided to move forward, not knowing how it was going to work out, (heck we still don’t) but trusting that it will.

Sounds nuts. I know.

Trust me when I tell you, I get the judgy baffled vibes you’re feeling. I wrestled with it for months. I just keep coming back to the thought that it doesn’t have to be perfect right now. If everything works out from the word go then that doesn’t leave much room for creativity and miracles now does it?

Have any of you dealt with an easement? Do you think we’re even more crazy now? How are you feeling? Tell me everything.

Also, I just wanted to drop in a quick thanks for being so supportive of all of my nitty gritty detail sharing on the boring behind the scenes stuff. I know its not the funnest to talk about (can we get to the design stuff already?!!) But its really important for me to share that there are actual real life issues that we had to deal with and overcome. That way if you ever find yourself on this journey, you won’t be discouraged by the quirks and roadblocks that come from saving an old building. Because man alive are they worth saving. There is almost 100 years of history here and its safe to say that none of the previous owners thought “I shouldn’t sign this easement because in 20 years someone might want to buy it and rip out the parking lot and turn it into a yard.” and guess what? Thats ok.

Side note: Random grammar question. If the word The is always going to be in front of the word Merc, does that mean that I need to capitalize the The (The Merc) or do I keep it lower case (the Merc)? I have googled and am coming up with mixed results. Grammar police I need you!!

PSSST! New to the series? Get caught up with all of the posts to date here!



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Author: Jeff Donaldsons

Good day everyone, I'm a family man who loves hanging out with friends & meeting new people. Family Friends and Coding Yeah!. I also love helping others.