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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.

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Attorney answers 2


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.


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

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