In more rural areas, homeowners often require private access to their homes via shared roads. Sometimes, multiple people in the area share the road together and also share maintenance. In other instances, people might own different parts of the road, usually the area closest to their own homes.
This can present issues if the person closest to the nearest county road decides to block access.
According to a Washington Post article, easements might resolve the issue. There are several potential ways to apply it and a few things to consider.
The title report or title insurance policy issued regarding a property at the time of purchase might include information related to existing easements. Sometimes, it might turn out that the person staking a claim on the first mile of a road might only own one side of the first half. Unfortunately, there are cases where someone might have divided up pieces of the land and sold it and failed to recreate a proper easement agreement.
Implied or prescriptive easements
Many jurisdictions have rules in place that might create implied or prescriptive easements, even without paperwork. For instance, in an instance where homeowners had regularly used a road for years, it might give them certain rights to continue to use the road for this purpose. There might also be local ordinances that make the easement mandatory if it is the only way to access the property.
Trulia explains the importance of understanding easements before purchasing a property. This might not always be possible without legal counseling, but consider the following questions before purchasing a home or developing already-owned land:
- What types of easement agreements do the homeowners or landowners have?
- What are the property rights and easements granted to the owner of the property in question?
- What effects will easements have on the final purchase or development of the land?
Unfortunately, easements do not resolve all blocked-access disputes. Even so, considering whether there might be easement rights is a good starting point.