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Prescriptive easements in Michigan, what qualifies?

Grand Rapids, MI |

I own nearly three hundred acres of property in Northern Michigan, almost surrounded by state land. On the northern portion of my property is a 20 acre lake which lies entirely on my property. I found out last summer that someone had been cutting across my property from the adjoining state land to swim in my lake. I warned him away, he apologized and said he thought it was state land, and now he is claiming prescriptive easement rights to continue the use of the trail and my lake. I thought you had to "knowingly" trespass to gain a prescriptive easement? I have not been served any papers, just trying to find more information. Thanks.

Attorney Answers 2


  1. Based on the facts you describe, it is highly doubtful prescriptive rights have been acquired. The key is not whether he knowingly trespassed (i.e. his intent) but rather whether the use of your land was sufficient to put you on notice that he believed he had a right to use your land.

    This response is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice, nor does it rise to an attorney client relationship. You should not act upon this information without seeking professional legal counsel.


  2. I agree with Attorney Guerin. I would add that the use of the property must have gone on for 15 uninterrupted years, in order for him to gain any kind of rights.

    James Frederick

    ***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. ***************************************** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state. I hope you our answer helpful!

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