Easement Question

Asked March 6, 2015, 8:02 PM EST

Can a person buy property that I inherited and have used for a lifetime and block access to my property when there are no other accesses to my property; in essence, land locking my property? I want to sell my property but I am being told I am "land locked" which makes the 160 acres virtually unmarketable. The person who has purchased the property between me and the highway says I am trespassing when I cross his property. . .he has offered to purchase my property at price considerably below the fair market value. Thank you for your consideration to my question which applies to a situation I am now currently facing. Patricia.

Palo Pinto County Texas ag law

1 Response

Patricia--I am sorry you are having this issue, I am sure it is extremely frustrating. I am unable to offer any specific legal advice, but can give you some general information. I would recommend contacting an attorney to discuss your options.

There are generally 4 ways that a landowner may seek to obtain access to landlocked property.

- Obtain an easement from an adjacent landowner who has roadway access to his/her property. It sounds like this may not be an option for you given the neighbor you have.

- Prescriptive easement. A prescriptive easement is similar to an adverse possession claim to land, basically, the law says that a prescriptive easement may exist where there is continuous use, without permission, of a neighbors property as an easement. In order to obtain a prescriptive easement, a landlocked owner must be able to prove that he/she (or their predecessor in interest) used the neighbor's property for access for at least 10 years.

- Easement by estoppel. These easements are created where the landowner somehow indicates that an easement exists. This can be very hard to prove.

- Implied easement. An implied easement exists is four conditions are met: (1) the dominant and servient estate were once under common ownership; (2) the roadway serving as the needed easement was in existence and being used prior to the estates being separated; (3) the use of the roadway was apparent, permanent, continuous, and necessary for the enjoyment of the landlocked estate prior to separation; and (4) The easement to the dominant tract is reasonably necessary after separation.

Another option is to petition the commissioners court to obtain a roadway. The Texas Transportation Code Section 251.053 addresses this issue. Here is a link: http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/TN/htm/TN.251.htm

Here is a great publication discussing this issue in more detail: http://recenter.tamu.edu/pdf/947.pdf