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As I know real estate law tends to be very local, this is occurring in the state of Georgia (in the US), and I'm not certain if the county is relevant (and not something I'd like to give out).

I am running into an issue on sewer line access. Originally (1932) the plots of me and my neighbor were not divided as they are now. Apparently both existing hookups to the sewer are in between my front yard and the street. My house was built in 2006, after acquiring one plot from the neighbor's estate and combining it with another plot. At the time, a new sewer-line was put in for the house and no easement was written up.

The house that was on neighbor's plot was from 1941, extremely dilapidated, and occasionally abandoned for up to 8 months at a time. The property was sold at the end 2013 and the house was demolished.

Then a new house was erected on the site, where the building permit makes no mention of sewer access.

Does the previous sewer attachment running through my property likely grant the current owner/construction the right to dig through my property to reconnect the new house on the old connection?

I've been reading through much of O.C.G.A. TITLE 44 Chapter 9 and wasn't able to find much that might seemed immediately relevant. Is there a better place to look? Perhaps I need to try to find more county regulations (which I had a hard time finding digital copies of).

I was a little interested in O.C.G.A. § 44-9-6 because there were several occasions where the property was vacant for 6+ months, including a 7-month pause in demolition construction due to funding, but after trying to find some case law I don't think that's long enough (as 44-9-6 doesn't specify a time, it seemed vague to me).

Hopefully you will forgive if I'm not even asking this question correctly, but I'm trying to read up on relevant Georgia code so I can understand the situation from a legal perspective.

  • If a general answer can be found, I would welcome that as well. I understand the site probably doesn't have a plethora of users well versed in GA real-estate law. – Atl LED Nov 6 '15 at 16:38
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    You might want to look at Georgia's law on a topic called adverse possession. The exact elements & requirements for adverse possession to apply to a situation can and do very a bit from state to state, but very often situations where an "informal" easement has been allowed or tolerated for many years will give rise to a successful claim that the easement has become a legally-effective one. You'll also most definitely want to take a broad look at Georgia case law (ie. court-decided law) on the topic of easements, & perhaps in particular about sewage easements and/or "easements by necessity" – mostlyinformed Nov 9 '15 at 8:28
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O.C.G.A. § 44-9-6 is a statute that deals with abandoned properties, typically meaning without ownership, upkeep, failure to observe their obligations related to loans/taxes....it's not just someone not living there for a few months or during construction. If the pipes are the municipality's or they are granted an easement in their deed they have the legal right to access them.

There is really nothing that can stop them from accessing it, because if they applied for and seemingly obtained a building permit, then they would've not issued that permit without access to water and sewer (even if your county or town uses well and septic). The means necessary for obtaining that would've likely meant getting a sewer permit, too.

But yes, these are all locally controlled issues.If you think the deed or the municipality does not grant the access, you can go to the registry of deeds and the county clerks office, and find out.

That said, abandonment takes much much longer than you've described, and it's a legal determination not just a physical absence from the property from a neighbor's perspective if other things are in place.

  • Sorry it took me so long to get back to this, but I had to check with inspectors and records to confirm the following: 1) the permit was actually issued on the assumption that the neighbor would pay for a new (shorter and more direct) hook up to the sewer as is commonly done with construction. 2) This will cost him $5k which he is trying to avoid by going to the old one. He is granted access to the sewer, but I'm failing to find where he will be able force adverse possession. – Atl LED Nov 13 '15 at 16:57
  • Well, technically speaking if he is allowed access it's not adverse possession. Unless what you mean is that he is not allowed to do it in the way he is. The permitting authority can assume or presume all they want, but if they permitted him, it's likely he has access regardless of whether that upgrade occurs. Unless he is in trespass, there is no way to stop it, but if you are damages or exposed to expenses you can recover in quantum merit or equitable estoppel. – gracey209 Nov 15 '15 at 2:56

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