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Does a New York property owner have to agree to an easement?

On Behalf of | Nov 5, 2023 | Real Estate Purchases And Sales |

There are many rules that limit the ownership rights of those who have invested in real property in New York. For example, some properties have an easement attached to their titles that will prevent owners from keeping certain other parties off of their real estate.

For example, utility easements are a common legal limitation on someone’s use of their own property. A utility company may secure an easement to access infrastructure on real property without needing the prior consent of the individual property owner. There are also many easements that allow neighbors to access either driveways or other resources to make an adjacent parcel more usable.

Securing an easement typically requires the permission of a property owner. Is it ever possible to obtain an easement in New York without the explicit consent of the other owner?

Prescriptive easements are sometimes an option

People often negotiate a mutually-beneficial arrangement with a property owner when requesting an easement. For example, they might agree to cover a portion of the maintenance and repair costs for a driveway if the easement gives them access to a paved path on a property.

However, even when there is a financial incentive to approve an easement, sometimes property owners refuse to cooperate with their neighbors.  Such situations may warrant someone seeking a prescriptive easement. A prescriptive easement is an easement granted without the specific consent of the property owner in very specific circumstances.

Typically, the party requesting the easement would need to meet the standards for adverse possession set by the state. That means they would need to have a 10-year history of utilizing the property in the proposed manner. Prescriptive easements are sometimes an option after the sale of real property to a new party who is not cooperative with the neighbor in the same way that the prior owner was.

People generally need proof of how they accessed and used space on someone else’s property if they hope to pursue a prescriptive easement in New York. It is often faster and less likely to cause bad blood between neighbors if those seeking an easement enter into negotiations with an adjacent landowner instead of taking them to court.

Learning more about how people secure easements in New York may help property owners to more effectively safeguard their interests. Seeking legal guidance when questions or concerns arise can be helpful proactively or reactively as well.