Q: We bought a home on a flag lot. My in-laws plan to sell their house back east and pay for an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) on our flag lot. My husband’s parents will act as on-site babysitters as they age in place on our property. We do not work from home, so this arrangement saves us from exorbitant day care costs.
Last night, upon learning about our ADU plans, the owner on the front lot vigorously objected. The front neighbor said our driveway is on his land. He explained that our driveway represents the “flagpole part of the flag lot.” The agitated neighbor said that our driveway belonged to his land. The angry neighbor stated he did not want any more cars using our driveway.
It gets worse; the unnerved front neighbor said he would legally object to us adding an ADU. The real estate agents involved in this sale knew of our ADU plans. It is hard to believe the front neighbor has this much power. It is all very unsettling. Where and how do we start deconstructing our costly predicament?
A: You have an easement to drive across a lot to access your landlocked property. These easements can often be flawed. If so, a poor easement agreement can be uninsurable. These agreements were often not notarized or recorded at the courthouse. These friendly handshake easement agreements can need more vital information, such as the frequency and cost of maintenance.
Contact the title officer involved in your recent sale. Your escrow officer has the information. The title officer can describe the validity of your easement. The title officer will be a wealth of knowledge regarding curing any flawed easement. Additionally, your title officer can refer you to the names of licensed, reputable surveyors. The recent survey will help legally with the easement and ADU.
Judges, juries, arbitrators and mediators do not look kindly at property owners who hinder a landlocked neighbor’s access. After identifying friction points for ADU construction, on January 1, 2023, California Assembly Bill 2221 and California Senate Bill 897 will become law. This and other ADU laws will help homeowners like yourselves deal with government agencies and objecting neighbors.
Lastly, a top-notch real estate attorney working with your title officer and surveyor will ensure three generations living on your flag lot.
Questions, concerns or inquiries? Realtor Pat Kapowich is a Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager and career-long consumer protection advocate. His hometown of Sunnyvale, California, is where he is based. Office Landline: 408-245-7700, [email protected] Broker# 00979413 www.SiliconValleyBroker.com