Occasionally over the years you come across a parcel of land, which is landlocked. Landlocked land is a term used when a property actually has no legal easement or recorded document that describes in writing the way a property accesses land that does not front a public road or street. It is usually a parcel of land that is surrounded by land owned by others on all sides. The most common questions asked about landlocked land, is how did it become landlocked and what are the remedies to fix the problem?
One simple way it can happen is basically when an owner divides off a smaller tract at the back of the property to give to a family member from the larger parcel. The original owner does not know, or forgot to include an easement over that dirt trail leading to the back forty acres that was conveyed. By not seeking the advise and assistance of an attorney to draft an easement or by not having the property surveyed, whereby the surveyor would have provided an easement, the parcel was simply deeded to a family member as gift or inheritance. The lack of easement was simply, at this time, not a concern and was forgotten. As often is the case, years later, the front parcel then gets sold to another and another and the lack of legal ingress and egress is not discovered and not corrected.
Much later in time this chain of events will eventually come back to haunt the original family member who was gifted or inherited the land without legal access. As now, the landlocked landowner desires to sell and of course wants a good price for the parcel. So what are the options available to correct the problem? Essentially there are 3 things to explore.
1. Is to sell to one of the adjoining landowners, usually for less than market value. Because the property is not marketable to another.
2. Is to attempt to buy or obtain a written easement from the current landowner along the old dirt road. Of course this will require a surveyed legal description of the location of the easement and a signature of the landowner of the land the easement crosses.
3. And finally, the least favored, is if the current owner won't agree to grant an easement then the landlocked owner will need to hire an attorney to litigate the problem.
Land locking usually does not happen today as it had in the past times. This is because our current subdivision laws do a good job of requiring surveys to be completed whenever land is being divided. This is done to ensure that every parcel has legal access on every legally plated lot or tract of land. Additionally, most land sold today also has a title search completed by a title company, which will verify the access when search is ordered. If you plan to purchase land that is not currently surveyed, it is always advisable to obtain a survey prior to closing even if it has roadway frontage, thus insuring that it really does have legal access.
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About the author:
Mary Strang is the Broker-owner of RE/MAX Hill Country Realty located in Viroqua, WI. Home to Organic farming, a small rural city population of about 4000 and a great place to live! Copyright © 2009 by Mary Strang. All rights reserved... " Landlocked Land" the blog post was written by Mary Strang is believed accurate but may not be guaranteed.