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Can you secure an easement without your neighbor’s consent?

On Behalf of | Aug 24, 2023 | Easements |

Perhaps you have some rural hunting property with a cabin that does not have any road access. Historically, your neighbor whose property abuts the road always allowed you to drive up their driveway and then veer off to the side onto your property. You haven’t had to worry about the lack of access because of your accommodating neighbor.

However, they died, and their child is now the owner of the property. They do not want to allow you to continue using the driveway or have indicated that they will put up a fence so that you cannot access your property from their driveway. These decisions by the new owner of this property would have an immediate negative effect on your ability to utilize your land as you always have.

Can you secure an easement if the owner of the property does not wish to grant you an easement?

Massachusetts does allow prescriptive easements

The best and easiest way to secure an easement for property access or improvement is to cooperate with the neighbor whose property abuts your own and provides access. If the other property owner is amenable to the arrangements, you can potentially sign a deed making the easement official and protecting your ability to access your property as you wish.

When your neighbor challenges your right of access, your habit of historically using the property, even without their consent, can lead to a legal easement. Massachusetts law requires that you have made use of the property in a specific manner for at least 20 years if you hope to obtain an easement from the owner without their consent.

Provided that you can show you have historically used the driveway or another portion of the property for access to your own, the courts may agree that you have the right to protect that access and may grant you an easement against the wishes of the current owner.

Although securing an easement is crucial to your utilization of the property, maintaining good relationships with your neighbors is also important. Simply demonstrating a knowledge of the law might be enough to push a reticent neighbor into cooperating with you if you offer some kind of compensation for the easement you request.

Learning more about Massachusetts real estate laws and easement rules can help those who own inaccessible or undeveloped property.


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