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Condo | HOA Lawyers

Driveway Easement and Boat Slips – Expensive Fighting

Two of the three lot owners in a subdivision had a dispute over a driveway easement and boat slips.  Lot 2 was contracted to be sold first and it included a driveway easement on Lot 1 and Slip A (the one with the boat lift).  When Lot 2 was deeded, however, Slip C was on the deed (no boat lift).  Lot 2 used Slip A, but when Lot 1 was later sold, that deed stated Slip A.  Despite what was on the deeds, after Lot 1 was sold its owner used Slip C, as he was apparently aware of the error on the Lot 2 deed.  Later a dispute broke out over whether the driveway easement was simply for ingress or egress or included the right of Lot 2 to park vehicles on the driveway.  This resulted in Lot 1 filing suit for the court to determine the extent of the driveway easement and who owned which boat slip.

Trial Court

Found for Lot 2 on both issues, holding that Lot 2 could park on the driveway and that the deeds should be reformed so that Lot 2 would own Slip A, instead of Slip C.  The trial court also awarded costs and attorney fees to the Lot 2 owner.  Lot 1 owner appealed.

Court of Appeals

Affirms in part and reverses in part.

  1. The driveway easement is not limited to ingress and egress and therefore Lot 2 can park vehicles on it. Lot 1 can use the driveway for ingress and egress provided it does not interfere with Lot 2 easement rights.
  2. Lot 1’s interest in Slip A is superior to Lot 2 and therefore that portion of the trial court judgment is reversed.
  3. Defendants (Lot 2) are not the prevailing party and therefore they are not entitled to attorney fees.
LESSON:  Take the time to read the deed to make sure you are buying what you think you are buying.

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