Q: After closing on my house I found out that my sewer lines are not on my property. The sewer lines are required to be on my property to get a mortgage.
How do I fix this problem and how do I find out who the real owner is of the property next door? Any help would be greatly appreciated because our lawyer said he cannot do anything to help me.
A: I’m not sure why your attorney couldn’t help you, but here are some suggestions.
You can find out from the local recorder of deeds office who is the owner of the property next door. When you go to the recorder of deeds office you will need the address for the property along with the parcel identification number. In some counties you can plug in the address of the home on the county website and get the parcel ID number.
If you’ve got a little luck, you’ll find the county you live in has placed its land records online. If the documents are online, you may be able to find out information about the last land transfer to know who is in title to the land next door.
Knowing who lives next door won’t tell you how they bought the property, but it will give you the date that the deed was recorded and usually will tell you the names of the sellers and the names of the buyers. Depending on where you live, you may be able to get more information and even get a copy of the document online.
But if your local county does not have this information online, you can get the information by going to the recorder of deeds office in person. You will need to find out where the office is. In some places, it may be the local courthouse or main government building.
Don’t indicate how you know that your sewer line does not go from your property to the street. If you are basing your information on a hunch, you may want to do a little more investigating. A local plumber might be of some help in locating the direction of the sewer line.
It’s not unusual for a home that was once part of a larger parcel of land to have a sewer line and even other utilities come via an adjacent parcel of land. If the prior owners did their homework, they would have created an easement giving the home without direct access to the street the right to continue to use the neighboring parcel of land for their utilities, including the sewer line. The easement document would have had other provisions to make sure that each party had their rights protected but that the sewer line could be used indefinitely.
While I’m not familiar with the particular laws in your state, it would seem unusual to be unable to get a mortgage solely on the basis of the location of the sewer line, particularly if you can prove that you have the right to continue to use the sewer lines as they are currently located.
If you are correct that your local jurisdiction won’t allow you to take out a mortgage without having the sewer lines on your property to the street, you have two options. The first is to find out if you can keep the sewer line where it is by obtaining a waiver of the rule or obtaining permission by the local authorities to keep the sewer line as it is currently installed. If no written easement agreement exists with your neighbor, you may have to have an easement agreement drafted and signed by the neighbor.
The second option would be to install a new sewer line. This will, obviously, be the more expensive option. But it may be an opportune time to evaluate the condition of the old sewer line. If the old sewer line is in poor shape and would have to be replaced in the near future, the current expense would solve two problems. You’d be able to get financing for the home and eliminate the potential of a sewer back up or other problem if the sewer line collapses.