Easements, Rights of Ways, and Access Issues Regarding Florida Property
Access issues for real estate can be a complex and frustrating matter. In many cases, property owners litigate these matters because they cannot settle the dispute between themselves. While some easement, right-of-way, and access issues will be settled in court, many of these matters can be handled through negotiation.
Our Daytona real estate attorneys are skilled negotiators who can work with you to discover a compromise that can save you time and money. However, if the other party refuses to negotiate in good faith, our lawyers are trained and aggressive litigators who are prepared to take the case to court if it is necessary to protect your property rights and best interests.
If you have questions about matters related to easements, rights-of-ways, and access to property, contact our Daytona real estate law firm by calling (888) 316-2131.
Access to Real Estate is Essential
Access to real property is crucial. A “landlocked” piece of property, or property that has no access from a public thoroughfare, is not very valuable in most cases. If you purchase a landlocked piece of real estate, you have no way of accessing your land unless you are granted a right-of-way or easement across the land that surrounds your property. You cannot assume your neighbors give you permission to cross their land and you do not have the legal right to use their land to access your land.
Therefore, access to land by the owner is very important. However, there are other reasons why a party may need access to land. For instance, utility companies may need access to your land to install or work on utility lines. The county may require access to a portion of your land to construct and maintain sewer lines or road shoulders.
Easements and rights-of-ways grant permission to other parties to access your land. Even though easements and rights-of-ways are similar, there are some very distinct differences that are important, especially when access disputes between property owners or third parties arise.
What is Considered an Easement in Florida?
An easement is a nonpossessory interest in another person's property. In other words, an easement grants you the right to use the property for a specific purpose, but the easement does not transfer any ownership in the property to you. Several different types of easements maybe granted under Florida laws:
• Easement Appurtenant – An agreement between landowners for mutual benefit such as a shared commercial parking lot.
• Easement in Gross — Provides access to the property for a specific purpose, such as utility lines.
• Easement by Prescription – Easement granted after 20 years of continued use without objection.
• Easement by Way of Necessity — May be used for landlocked property or public policy necessity.
• Access Easements — Access to cross property such as beachfront pathways.
• Solar Easement — Access to maintain solar energy devices.
Easements are usually conveyed in a deed or other written instrument that transfers to the grantee the use of the land but not title to the land. To reduce disputes, it is best to define the easement whenever possible, including the area and the purpose of the easement.
What is a Right-of-Way?
An easement and a right-of-way are very similar in that they both give access to another person's property. However, a right-of-way does not give you access to another person's property for “use” of the property. A right-of-way only allows you to pass over another person's property. Rights-of-way are for travel purposes across the land, such as a driveway or a walkway. They do not allow you to use the land for any other reasons.
Disputes Related to Rights-of-Ways and Easements?
Because easements and rights-of-ways allow access to your property, there are many instances where disputes may arise between you and the person or third parties utilizing the easement or right-of-way. Some of the common issues and disputes related to easements and rights-of-ways in Florida include:
• The scope of the use of the easement or right-of-way;
• Restricting access to the easement or right-of-way;
• Relocation of the right-of-way or easement;
• Determining the exact location and boundaries of the right-of-way or easement;
• Overuse of the right-of-way or easement;
• Using the right-of-way for another purpose other than crossing the land;
• Transfer of the right-of-way or easement; and,
• Whether a legal easement or right-of-way was created.
When you are facing a dispute regarding access to your property or access to an easement or right-of-way, you need an experienced Florida real estate lawyer to review the facts and circumstances in the case, conduct a title examination, and research relevant Florida laws to determine your options for resolving the dispute.