If you aren't exactly sure what a prescriptive easement is, don't panic. Although getting to the bottom of just what prescriptive easements really mean in legal terms can be difficult, it isn't impossible. If you are a landowner, this is part and parcel of the legal jargon that you can expect to encounter on a daily basis. You don't want to be blindsided by them if they suddenly appear in the midst of a summons to court. This is why it's worth taking some time to learn just what these sorts of terms really mean.
Holding a Prescriptive Easement Is a Sort of Common Law Possession
Perhaps the easiest way to get a handle on just what prescriptive easements really are is to think of them as a sort of common law possession. A prescriptive easement is an easement that isn't covered with any sort of legal documentation, such as the granting of rights to a certain piece of land via an official will or boundary sharing agreement. At the same time, holding this right isn't exactly in the same boat as squatting on someone else's property. The relationship is a bit more complex than that.
What Kind of Conditions Do Prescriptive Easements Occur Under?
There are a number of conditions that may call for the granting of legal recognition of a prescriptive easement. Some of these situations may include, but will not be limited to, the following:
- Resolving an issue such as a fence that infringes on another person's property.
- Allowing one person to drive to work on a road that cuts through someone else's property.
- Allowing a person to build a shed or barn that partially resides on someone else's property.
- Resolving a dispute over a home addition that may partly infringe on another person's property.
- Allowing one person to graze cattle on another person's property.
- Allowing a person to store equipment on or move it through another person's property.
How Can Another Person Obtain Prescriptive Easement Rights On Your Land?
There are a number of ways in which a neighbor can obtain the right to a prescriptive easement over part of your land. If they have recently begun to take advantage of part of your land for their own purposes, you have every right to stop them. However, if after a certain period of time, you have not legally challenged them, they can use your lapse in judgment against you. They can take you to court and obtain an adverse easement. This means that they can legally force you to grant them the use of part of your land for the purposes they state in their suit.
How Can You Avoid Becoming the Victim of a Prescriptive Easement?
There are a number of ways in which a prescriptive easement can harm you. You may not wish to be disturbed by another person continually using the road that cuts through your property. This person may engage in other activities in addition to the activity that is legally allowed. If you would like to stop this person from taking advantage of you and your property, it's an excellent idea to insist on the signing of an express easement that will spell out their exact rights in a legally documented form. This will give you the right to alter or terminate the agreement if the other party does not adhere to it.
It's Important That You Know Your Rights As a Land Owner
Becoming the victim of an adverse easement is no laughing matter. Granting or honoring a prescriptive easement is one thing, but losing rights over part of your land is a whole other. This is why it is so crucially important for you to know your rights as a landowner. Not only should you know your rights but you should also be prepared to enforce and defend them. Good fences make good neighbors, but good laws make far more trustworthy neighbors.