Landlocked Property Attorneys
With help from Virginia Landlocked Property Attorneys at MartinWren P.C., most disputes over landlocked property can be resolved through what is called an easement. In real estate, the term “landlocked” means there is no direct access from a property to a public street. So, a person may have to cross land that is owned by someone else to get on and off their landlocked property. An easement gives a person the right to use or cross over another’s land for a specific purpose.
Property is said to be landlocked when it does not have road frontage, an established legal easement, or a recorded deed that describes in writing how the property is to be accessed. This usually occurs when a parcel of land without road access is entirely surrounded by land owned by others. Simply put, access to that land is not possible without trespassing on a neighbor’s land.
How Properties Can Become Landlocked
Landlocked properties often arise as the product of subdividing much larger pieces of land. The original landowner may have even built roads from these separated properties, but it is still possible for land to get locked if the roads are private and not turned over to local government. A parcel may have been in a family for several generations up until now, when different entities have obtained ownership.
The Downside to Landlocked Property
As you can imagine, there are certainly negatives to a landlocked property. Lenders may deny loans to improve, purchase, or build upon homes within a landlocked property. This is because there is a lack of access from the public, which can mean it is less accessible for police and fire protection. The lack of easy access to the property can be a deterrent for potential buyers too. Anyone considering purchasing a landlocked property or wants help getting land unlocked, can talk with VA Landlocked Property Attorneys for more information and potential solutions.
Landlocked property presents many different challenges. Lenders will be wary of writing loans for property that is landlocked whether for sale, purchase, construction, or improvements, because of a lack of access diminishes the value of property. In addition, the marketability of landlocked property is harmed due to a lack of public services, including fire and police services. If you are looking at investing in a property which is discovered to be landlocked or if you find yourself the owner of landlocked property, consult with Landlocked Property Attorneys VA for advice on the best solution to this problem.
Establishing an Easement
To remedy the problems caused by owning a landlocked parcel of property, the simplest course of action is to obtain a written access easement from a neighboring landowner. This option would save involved parties considerable time and money and, most likely, promote good neighborly relations. If the neighbors are agreeable to allowing an easement for access, Landlocked Property Attorneys in Virginia can help draft and record the easement, depending on the precise type of easement desired.
Being represented by a member of our legal team can ensure the easement is properly prepared and includes all relevant conditions. For example, you should specify what type of access is included – pedestrian, vehicular, ingress and egress only – if there are any time restrictions on access, and whether use extends to your visitors, contractors, employees, and so on. Further, the easement should specify whether it is temporary and ends at a certain date or whether it is permanent and attaches to your property indefinitely.
Verbal Agreements May Not Last
An easement can enable the owner of a landlocked property the right to cross over another’s land. Easements are legal contracts, and is more than just a verbal agreement between neighbors. Informal agreements may only remain in effect for the duration in which these two parties get along. If a conflict ever arises, then the neighbor who is landlocked from the public roads may be left in a troublesome predicament.
When an easement is granted, a land surveyor would also be retained to measure and furnish the metes and bounds description of the easement. It may also be wise to develop a road maintenance agreement to specify who is responsible for maintenance and repair of the road.
Virginia Landlocked Property Attorneys at MartinWren P.C. may suggest establishing an official easement that both you and your neighbor can sign, ensuring that you are protected even if things turn sour between you both personally. Here are a couple other common situations related to easements:
- Easement by Necessity: As more of a last resort, if a landlocked owner cannot gain access to the public streets in any other way, the owner can sue the neighbor for right-of-way access. If a property owner is granted this type of easement, he or she is likely to pay a fair market price for the segment of land used to get from the property to a roadway.
- Easement by Prescription: The owner of a landlocked property may use another’s land for access without actual permission, but the landowner doesn’t do anything to stop it from happening. If this goes on for an extended period of time, then the landlocked owner essentially gains a prescriptive easement that then passes down to future owners. The time frame that must go by before a pathway becomes easement by prescription varies based on state law.
Implied Property Easement
If you are unable to obtain a written easement, you may be able to obtain an implied easement. You may be able to establish an easement by necessity or by implied grant. Easements of necessity are implied in circumstances where land would be unusable without an easement. Landlocked property is often granted implied easements. Additionally, Landlocked Property Attorneys based in VA can help determine whether a prescriptive easement has been established.
If you are considering purchasing a property that may be landlocked or if you are the owner of landlocked property, contact our team at MartinWren, P.C. We can examine the precise nature of the property’s title and investigate the various options to make the property become accessible. Contact MartinWren, P.C.’s VA Landlocked Property Attorneys at 434-817-3100 as we can help you establish access to the property and preserve its value and worth.