Written By: Jay Cabanlit
When you purchase a vacant land, you should have legal access to that property. This means that you should have a right of way or easement to get to your property, either through a road or path, and that the way should be maintained by whoever is responsible for it. If you don't have legal access, you may not be able to get to your property, or someone may be able to stop you from using the way. Not having legal access to a certain property means that it is landlocked.
Easement and Right of way
An easement grants one person the right to use another's property. There are two types: appurtenant and gross. The latter refers to your right over another person's land, whereas the former refers to the use of one's land for the benefit of adjacent lands.
Rights of Way on the other hand allows an individual to enter your property and use it as a passage. The most obvious example is the road that runs through your property. Other people have access to this road and are legally entitled to do so. The idea is to offer reasonable solutions for travel. Your property cannot be used to restrict people from entering. Essentially, under Rights of Way, one portion of your land may be considered public property.
How to check if a property has legal access?
First, you'll need to look at the deed of your property. The deed should indicate whether there is a road or path that provides access to your land. In some states and counties, you can search the deed by going to the county clerk/recorder’s website.
Second, if there is no road or path mentioned in the deed, you may still have legal access if there is a road or path shown on a plat map. A plat map is a map of a subdivision or other area that shows the lot lines and the roads or paths in the area.
Third, you may still be able to establish legal access if there is a public easement. A public easement is a right to use a path or road that has been dedicated to public use, such as a highway or street.
Before buying any property, always check to see if it has legal access. If the property does not have legal access, it may be a difficult and long process to obtain a right of way from neighboring lands and it would be hard to develop or sell it in the future.