Otero v. Pacheco

1980-NMCA-058, 94 N.M. 524, 612 P.2d 1335

 

RULE:

A bona fide purchaser does not take subject to an easement unless he has actual or constructive knowledge of its existence. However, the law charges a person with notice of facts which inquiry would have disclosed where the circumstances are such that a reasonably prudent person would have inquired.

FACTS:

Defendant neighbors built two homes on the lots, which were served by one sewer line. The plaintiff property owners, who purchased the second home, brought the action to recover amounts paid in ad valorem taxes. The trial court found in favor of the neighbors, holding that the neighbors held an easement over the property owners' land for purposes of the sewer line, and that the property owners took title subject to that easement. On appeal from that judgment, the court affirmed.

ISSUE:

Will an easement by implied reservation be recognized, if it is reasonably necessary for a landowner to enjoy the continued use of his property?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

The court first recognized the doctrine of easement by implied reservation and rejected the strict necessity test for implying the easement. The court then held that the property owners were subject to the easement under the doctrine because the easement was necessary to the reasonable enjoyment of the property. The court also found that the property owners were charged with notice of facts which inquiry would have disclosed and that a reasonably prudent person purchasing the property would have inquired regarding the sewer line. Therefore, the property owners, who failed to discover the sewer line location, did not take the land free and clear of the easement.

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