If I purchase a house with 2 springs on the property and they provide water to adjoining properties, what are my rights/responsibilities?

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If I purchase a house with 2 springs on the property and they provide water to adjoining properties, what are my rights/responsibilities?

I am considering purchasing a home with acreage. There are 2 springs on the property which provide water to 2 houses on adjoining properties. The seller of the property I want to purchase told me that he doesn’t know if there are any written agreements with the owners of the adjoining properties, but one of the owners pays him $5/year for use of the water. Apparently this was an agreement made before he purchased the property in 1986. What are my rights/responsibilities to supply water to these properties?

Asked on May 1, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You need to consult with a real estate attorney about this matter. Even in the absence of a written agreement, it is possible that an easement has been formed by the longstanding practice, or that a court would conclude that it is equitable (fair and proper) to create an easement so that the other properties get water. A lot depends on the facts: e.g. if they did not have access to your wells or springs, is there another water source (wells on their own land; municipal water) which is available, or are your springs the only water source? How long has water been provided, and under what terms? Etc. The facts are everything in a case like this. Also, you should check title for not just the property you're considering buying, but the adjacent ones--are easements recorded anywhere? You may wish to also speak to the other homeowners--ask them if they have any documentation regarding the springs and the arrangement.


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