I am a land owner. Can I be forced to convey a right of way to a neighbors property?

Asked over 1 year ago - Elmira, NY

The property owner that borders mine does not have a right of way to get there. I have always allowed them access. Can they ever "demand" a formal right of way?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Jayson Lutzky


    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . It depends. If you have allowed them the use over time you may have a problem. Speak with a local zoning or real estate lawyer.

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  2. Jack Richard Lebowitz


    Contributor Level 18


    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . I agree with what Jayson told you, an easement by adverse possession can arise under certain circumstances if someone has used an access for over ten years (in New York) without being stopped by the owner (or the previous owners).

    There may also be an easement somewhere in your "chain of title" (deeds of previous owners of your property) where someone expressly granted the property owner a written easement deed, that would "run with the land" and be binding on subsequent owners in the "chain of title" (i.e., you).

    Another way an "easement by necessity" can arise is if your neighbor's lot and your lot were once part of a bigger lot and your neighbor's lot is the "landlocked" parcel not fronting on the public road that accesses your property. In that circumstance, an implied "easement by necessity" automatically arises.

    Additionally, depending on how long you have "allowed" access, the neighbor may or may not be able to claim an easement (because adverse possession cannot be by permission, acknowledging your ownership or your predecessor in title).

    You need to talk to a real estate lawyer and bring (if you can): your deed, a property tax bill with your tax map parcel id on it, and the "abstract of title" and/or title insurance policy you got from your lawyer when you closed on the property (which may except the easement from title insurance coverage in a schedule if the title searchers found it during their review of your title).

  3. Joseph Allen Bollhofer

    Contributor Level 12


    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . An easement by necessity or by 'prescription' may be given by a court. It
    sounds like your neighbors might be entitled to one or the other, which
    amounts to the same result for you.

    Joseph A. Bollhofer, Esq.

    Joseph A. Bollhofer, P.C.

    291 Lake Ave.

    St. James, NY 11780


    fax (631)584-2304



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