Do I Have to Provide My Neighbor With Access to My Property?

Note: The DearEsq free 'ask a lawyer' site is offered as a free informational service to the public and is not intended as legal advice. Laws vary from state-to-state, and in addition every situation is unique, and relevant facts may not be known. The answer to the question posed below may not apply to in your state or to your situation. For legal advice in your state and your situation you should consult with an attorney in your state who is familiar with the rules and laws in your state.

There is a lane that runs between my neighbor and I. He owns (according to survey on my deed) from the middle of the lane towards his house and I own (according to survey on my deed) from the middle of the lane towards my house. The lane leads to an old house that is visited 2 or 3 times a year. My deed doesn’t reveal a right of way or easement to that property owner (who is not landlocked). Do I have to allow him access across my property? I have parked my vehicles on the part that I own which he was fine with, but now he tells me that I cannot block the lane. He lives in another state but wants other neighbors to have use of the lane. What are his rights to use of my property? I have owned the property for 14 years. He is threatening me with a lawsuit if I don’t move my vehicles. Thank you.

First, just because it’s not shown on your deed doesn’t mean that there isn’t an easement. Easements are often created in separate documents. However, such a document should be recorded, so you should be able to locate it with the county. Alternately, a polite request to your neighbor might get you a copy.

Once you get the document (if there is one), you should be able to determine what each owner’s relative rights are. It would be unusual for an easement owner to be able to grant use to other neighbors, but it’s certainly possible.

Second, even if there isn’t a written easement, your neighbor may have gotten an easement by prescription (i.e., by use). However, it’s very unlikely that this type of easement would exclude you from using the road.

In any case, a local real estate attorney can help you to understand your rights, either under the document or under your states rules for prescriptive easements.