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Old 02-08-2009, 05:39 PM
 
54 posts, read 425,821 times
Reputation: 71

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I am buying a rural house that has a well on the property. There is a shared well agreement that includes the house in question, the house next door, and two undeveloped 5 acre parcels. (So it's a 4-way shared well.) The current owner and the house next door currently split the electric bill 50/50, even though the agreement states that costs must be split 4 ways. The reason they do this (they say), is because one undeveloped parcel uses NO water (no house there), and the other undeveloped parcel uses very, very little (it has an RV parked on it, only occasionally occupied).

The shared well document also ONLY contains the signatures of the ORIGINAL(not current) owner of the house in question, no signatures of the other parties.
My question: Can I change the agreement? The well and storage tank would be on 'my' property. I don't want to cause friction as the new neighbor. I understand why the current owner doesn't charge the two undeveloped parcels since they use little or no water. HOWEVER, who pays for the maintenance & repairs? What happens if there is an earthquake and the well or holding tank ruptures? Even though the agreement states that all repairs and maintenance are shared 4 ways, there aren't signatures from all four owners (but there are parcel descriptions). So would the parcel owners still be liable without signatures?
Yes, the undeveloped land owners may not be using the water currently, but they have the RIGHT to, and get the privilege of saying their land has water rights when selling their parcels. Shouldn't they have to pay for upkeep and maintenance? Apparently right now they pay nothing. And one of the parcels IS for sale, and a future owner COULD build a house on it.
Again, I don't want to stir up a hornet's nest. The current owner says everything is fine "no problems" right now, with the way it is done, just splitting the electric (well pump) bill 50/50 with the house next door.
Am I being paranoid for wanting a better agreement? I am in escrow and ready to sign papers...does this need to be completely re-written before we can continue with inspections and all?

(PLEASE don't tell me to just 'buy another house' and forget this one. Shared wells are the 'norm' in this area. I want to hear from people who know a little about shared wells and well agreements)
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Old 02-08-2009, 09:54 PM
 
Location: Seaford, Delaware
3,472 posts, read 17,352,468 times
Reputation: 2628
I would change the agreement to plan for the future. I'm sure the currrent owner/neighbor would agree with a change to protect both of you by planning for the future. If closing includes accepting the agreement, get it done before closing.
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Old 02-08-2009, 10:01 PM
 
1,305 posts, read 2,174,600 times
Reputation: 238
It sounds to me that you're fretting over something that's not an issue.

Regardless of how your agreement is written, it sounds to me that it is fair for the people actually using water to share all costs (maintenance, repairs, and electricity) for a well. It doesn't sound reasonable to me to ask that the vacant lots chip in to help with a system that they are not using or benefitting from.

Could the agreement be rewritten? Yes, but you'd have to have everyone agree on it assuming that it is a legally binding document.

I don't think it'd be worth stirring up trouble with your new neighbors over something like this.
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Old 02-08-2009, 10:06 PM
 
Location: Salem, OR
14,058 posts, read 33,083,543 times
Reputation: 12934
First of all it doesn't matter whether or not the current owners signatures are on the document as long as it is recorded with the county for each parcel. Agreements such as these "run with the land" so whomever buys the land is agreeing to that agreement. Just like you are now.

What's happening right now seems reasonable to me. I mean the two houses split the cost of the electricity to run the pump. That seems fair to me. I would expect if a house is built then the electricity would then be split three ways. I don't think it's fair to ask someone who doesn't use any water to pay for the electricity for your use. When they tap in, then yes they should be participating in the costs.
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