“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”
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.