We are Allowing our Neighbors to Use a Portion of our Yard, Should we Draw Up a Formal Easement Agreement?

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.

“We have a question about our property. We have allowed our neighbors to use the back portion of our yard for almost five years in exchange for the landscaping they did for us. Their house is directly behind ours, and they did not have room for their son and daughter to play. They have paid the water bill, but no insurance, property taxes, mortgage, etc. Do we need to have a formal easement agreement? Can they take over our property and assume ownership after a prescribed length of time? They are using approximately 6,000 square feet”

Question: As a general rule, as long as someone is using your property with your permission, they do not accrue any rights to continue to do so. However, people’s memory is imperfect, so it is always advisable to get your agreements in writing-and when land is involved, you may want the writing to be recorded, as well.