All our Neighbors Use our Boat Ramp, Can we Ask Them to Sign a Waiver of Liability? What are our Rights?

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“WE recently bought a 2nd home on the river. The property has a boat ramp on it. The latest Platte chart, only shows the outline of our property, no indication of a boat ramp. AND there are no easements recorded to date. There are 4 boat ramps in the community, all owned by the pertaining lot owner. BUT, everyone allows everyone to share…

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The neighbor a few houses down (and the association president), has lived in the neighborhood for about 10 years and has continued to tell surrounding neighbors they have a ‘right’ to our boat ramp. We have documentation of conversations from previous owners, in the last 10 years, that has disagreed that he has a ‘right’ to the boat ramp, but have given him permission to use the ramp. He uses it twice a year to put his dock in.

The neighbors all help each other out, mowing each other’s yard when they’re not around, grading driveways and our boat ramp after high waters, etc. AND everyone’s property is on the water as well…. Do they have a ‘right’ to use our ramp even though they can put in a ramp themselves? Or use the local marina which is less than a mile away?

We’ve asked that they sign a waiver of liability in exchange for permission of using the ramp, since this is our 2nd home and we cannot maintain the ramp non-stop. Some are ok with this…other’s not so much. We’ve been indirectly threatened that an easement by prescription will be placed on our ramp… What are our rights? We live in Missouri.”

Generally speaking, a prescriptive easement (a.k.a. easement by prescription) comes into existence when someone uses your property for the legal minimum period of time, without your permission. If you (and the prior owners of your property) have been giving permission to use your property, then no prescriptive rights would have come into existence.

That having been said, you would do well to avoid an expensive and time-consuming lawsuit to resolve the question.



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Author: House Attorney

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