The Driveway Debacle
We had a past client call us the other day in panic. We will call him Bob. Names have been changed to protect the innocent. His new neighbor, Nabob, told Bob that Bob's driveway was on Nabob's property, and that Bob would have to start paying Nabob rent to use the driveway. As you can imagine, Bob was taken aback and quickly called us. We told Bob not to worry, because we vaguely remembered that there was an agreement in place regarding the driveway.
Sure enough, we went back through our files and found a recorded agreement between the two previous lot owners to share the land that the driveway sits on. The funny thing is that part of Nabob's driveway was on Bob's land, so Nabob would have to pay Bob rent! Anyway, we sent a copy of the document to Bob and everything turned out fine.
Why did we have a copy of the agreement? Because we did our research when Bob was buying the property. We looked at an aerial view of the parcel and saw that the driveway encroached on the neighbor's property. We knew that this could be a potential issue, so we researched all of the previous lot owners until we found the agreement that was recorded. Had we not found a recorded agreement, we would have made it a condition of closing to put an agreement in place.
Did we have to do any of this research? No. We had no legal responsibility to research the poperty. The property was bank-owned and was sold AS-IS and with no disclosures to our buyer, Bob. We could have written the contract, made the sale, and told Bob "tough luck" when he called us. However, that is not how we operate.