Phillips & Angley

Landlocked properties need special treatment

When someone showed you a piece of property that you believe suits your purposes, you probably didn't think twice about the road you took to get to it. You decide to move forward with the purchase only to find out that the property is landlocked and the road you took to access it is on land owned by another party.

The route you took to view the property included traveling through property owned by someone else. Now, you have a problem. You need to make sure that you obtain the legal right to use that ingress and egress in order to get to the property you want to purchase.

Is there an existing easement?

Even if a title search reveals an easement from the property owner across whose land you drove, it does not necessarily mean that the easement survives the sale. The easement may require reconsideration or renegotiation upon the sale of the landlocked property, or it could require termination of the current easement upon sale.

Before finalizing the purchase, you will need to renegotiate the easement with the other property owner. Failing to do so could get you into legal trouble since you would technically be trespassing every time you travel to your property from a public access point. If the owner of the adjacent property takes this opportunity to attempt to limit your access across his or her property, you may need to change tactics.

What other routes are available?

A land use agreement could provide each party with what they need. The agreement could outline each party's responsibilities and rights when it comes to the piece of land in question. The property owner may require you to maintain the roadway or limit the size and weight of vehicles you may drive on the property.

You may decide that the best way to protect yourself and your ingress and egress rights is to include them in the deed to your property instead of using a separate easement. This option tends to work best when the seller of the property you intend to purchase also owns the property you will need limited access to in order to get to your property. This also makes your property more marketable should you ever sell it, since access to it is in the deed.

Documenting access to a landlocked property

Regardless of which option you use in order to secure access to your landlocked property, it will need to be properly documented. Any misstep could end up costing you in the future. Any easement or other agreement you come to with the adjacent landowner must meet certain legal requirements in order to do you any good. For this reason, you may want to understand your rights and know how to ensure that your documentation will stand up to any court challenge.

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