Tuesday, September 2, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Neighbor’s sewer pipe might be running under backyard, driveway

jones column sig

By
From page HSR2 | June 21, 2014 |

Q: My husband and I live in an older part of Suisun City and have owned our small home for many years. This week we got a letter from the neighbor behind us that their sewer system in inoperable and the plumber seems to think their pipe runs through our backyard, under our driveway, and under our street. They are asking permission for the plumber to come over to see if they can locate the pipe so they can fix it. We don’t really want their sewage pipe running through our yard. In any event, they would have to tear up the landscaping or concrete to get to it. What are our rights?

A: Well, first of all you should see if you really have a problem.

It sounds like nobody really knows if the pipe is even running through your yard. I can’t imagine it will hurt anything if you let the plumber come over and use his detection equipment to see if he can find the pipe. If no pipe is found, then you obviously don’t have a problem.

Nowadays, when a subdivision map is approved many designers, engineers and government agencies review the plans to be sure the underground utilities run in directions that make sense.

That wasn’t the case many years ago.

It certainly isn’t uncommon in older areas to find the neighbor’s water lines, septic tank and leach field, or even sewer lines, running through neighboring parcels with no recorded easements in the record.

If the pipe is found to run through your yard, the first question you should ask is whether or not your home’s sewage system shares that same pipe with your neighbor. The old systems were made out of clay pipes. These pipes all seem to fail over time. If this is a shared pipe, you many want to work with your neighbor in replacing it before your system stops working, too.

However, if the plumber finds the pipe and you decide you don’t want to have your neighbor’s pipe running through your yard, you will probably need to consult an attorney about your rights. The body of law in this area is not only complicated, but the answer is usually determined by a variety of facts.

For example, if you have ever had reason to suspect the pipe was there, your neighbor will have already, under the law, acquired an easement to keep the pipe there.

You may recall from previous columns that the requirements for taking an easement against the wishes of the landowner are simply that the neighbor’s use of the easement was “open and notorious” and used for five years. Clearly the pipe has been there for more than five years.

The open and notorious part refers to whether you should have known of the use. It sounds from your letter that you didn’t know the pipe was there. But should you have known? That will be the factual question.

Often there are signs that a pipe is in the ground. Maybe there is a clean-out for the pipe that is now covered with brush in your backyard. Maybe your original sales documents made mention of the pipe. These are facts people can argue over when they are trying to get an easement.

On the other hand, the city will probably be on your side if your neighbor has a public sewer system running under the street in front of his home and you’d rather have him tie into that pipe.

Cities are well aware that these older developments often spawn lawsuits over these disputes. They would much rather have your neighbor correct the problem now by going directly into his street for sewer services.

My point here is your rights are way too complicated, both factually and legally, for the limited capacity of this column. I suggest you let the plumber investigate the existence of the pipe. Then, depending upon the results, consult an attorney.

Frankly, even if you don’t mind the pipe going through your yard, at a minimum you should have someone draft a maintenance agreement so future property owners will know what their rights are when this problem crops up again.

Tim Jones is a real estate attorney in Fairfield. If you have a real estate question you would like to have answered in this column you can contact him at SolanoScene@TJones-Law.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • SamJune 21, 2014 - 10:59 am

    Whom is responsible if the sewer line breaks and floods this persons yard with sewer?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Labor Day not a holiday for everyone

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3, 4 Comments | Gallery

 
Labor Day breakfast introduces union-backed candidates

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3, 2 Comments | Gallery

Pool provides last dose of summer fun in the sun

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
SafeQuest schedules peer counseling training course

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5

 
Fairfield police log: Aug. 31, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Aug. 31, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Aug. 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: Aug. 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

VP Biden says workers deserve ‘fair share’

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 3 Comments | Gallery

 
Obama: ‘Revving’ economy calls for higher wages

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 3 Comments | Gallery

Senegal monitors contacts of 1st Ebola patient

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
San Francisco to be 1st to test urban farming law

By The Associated Press | From Page:

GOP challenger tries novel tactics against Brown

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
US eating habits improve a bit – except among poor

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 3 Comments | Gallery

 
No gray area: Beliefs shape views of Brown killing

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment | Gallery

Americans detained in North Korea call for US help

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Iraqi prime minister pledges to root out militants

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Poland’s PM: Ukraine’s war must be stopped now

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Pro-Russian rebels lower demands in peace talks

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 2 Comments | Gallery

US helicopter crashes in Gulf of Aden; all rescued

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: Sept. 2, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page:

 
.

Entertainment

Inquiries begin into nude celebrity photo leaks

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment | Gallery

 
‘Guardians’ tops Labor Day, summer box office

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
.

Sports

Kirk rallies to win the Deutsche Bank

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Rockies top Giants after losing end of suspended game

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Dunn homers in 1st at-bat as A’s top Mariners

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Right guard Boone passes physical, rejoins 49ers

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Raiders name rookie Derek Carr as starting QB

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Armijo beats Vanden 2-0 to claim All-City boys soccer title

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Armed with new deal, Chiefs’ Smith looks forward

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Column: Stewart’s Chase status doesn’t matter

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Raiders ink CB Dowling, 9 others to practice squad

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Serena Williams, Djokovic roll to US Open quarters

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Houston Astros fire manager Bo Porter

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Hamels, 3 Phillies relievers no-hit Braves

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
.

Business

Markets drift as Wall Street has day off

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Austerity debate flares as Europe recovery fades

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Civil disobedience expected in fast-food pay fight

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 8 Comments | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Beetle Bailey Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Zits Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Wizard of Id Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sally Forth Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Bridge Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Blondie Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Rose is Rose Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Get Fuzzy Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sudoku Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
B.C. Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baldo Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Frank and Ernest Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Crossword Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Dilbert Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

For Better or Worse Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Peanuts Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Cryptoquote Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Garfield Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Word Sleuth Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7