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Do you need an easement to access your land?

If you recently found what you believe to be the perfect piece of property for your business, you are probably excited to get the transaction completed and get your operations up and running. Then, when the title search and survey come back, you realize that you need an easement to access the land.

Perhaps the old easement expired or otherwise ended. In the alternative, you may need a different route because changes to the infrastructure make the old easement cumbersome or not "user friendly." In any case, you now face seeking an easement from the owner of the property across which you will need to go in order to get to the property you want.

Asking the other property owner for an easement

You are asking the other property owner to give up his or her rights to a portion of the land. It creates a liability or claim on that portion of the land, so you will need to make your case -- and probably offer some form of compensation for the easement. While the owner could attempt to deny you access where you want it, you do have the right to ingress and egress on and off your land. Still, you will more than likely end up paying for that right.

If you only need a temporary easement for construction, clearing the land or some other short-term purpose, you may not have much negotiating to do. You can essentially "rent" a portion of the land for a short time. However, if you will need the access permanently, you will more than likely end up negotiating for a longer time. You are asking the other landowner to give up his or her rights to that portion of the land forever.

Sweetening the pot

If you go into negotiations understanding that you will need to maintain that easement portion of the land and will need to compensate the owner, the negotiations could be smoother and shorter. However, it also depends on where you want the easement. You need to be cognizant of the fact that the other property owner will more than likely weigh any inconvenience your request could cause him or her. For instance, if you need to go right through the middle of the other person's land, that could cause an issue.

Regardless of how your negotiations end up, you will need to document your agreement properly. You will also need to make sure that the easement makes it into the public records in order to avoid future legal entanglements since easements are often sold with the property. You need to make sure that any future owners understand your easement is part of their purchase. Enlisting the aid of a Massachusetts land use and zoning attorney to help ensure you protect your rights now and in the future may be wise.

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