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Understanding causes of right-of-way disputes

On Behalf of | Sep 29, 2023 | Real Estate

Owning a piece of property should give you all the rights you deserve as the owner. However, sometimes people experience conflict with a neighbor who claims the legal right to make use of their land, usually by traveling across it.

It is possible that you will learn your neighbor does not have the right to use your land, but you must understand the particular reasons behind your dispute. There are various situations that lead to right-of-way contests.

Lack of a formal easement

An easement is a legal provision for someone to use the land of another owner, usually to access an adjacent property. While you may not want an easement on your land, at least it will define where your neighbor can use your property.

Without a formal easement, property owners might disagree about who has the right to access specific pathways or areas. This can happen if the previous owner of your land made an oral agreement with a neighbor to use the land. As the current owner, you might interpret the arrangement differently or want to revoke it.

Unclear or missing boundary information

Insufficient or outdated documentation regarding the right-of-way can create disputes. This includes missing or vague easement records in property deeds. Unclear property boundaries can also result in disputes over the location and extent of the right-of-way. This often occurs when boundary markers are missing or inaccurate.

Development or renovation of the land

Subdividing property for development purposes can result in conflicts. As a new owner of partitioned land, you may contest access rights, particularly if there is no clear documentation to establish them. Also, the utility infrastructure that runs through right-of-way areas may require upgrades or changes. Without proper handling, these alterations can create disputes with you and neighboring property owners.

Property owners can resolve right-of-way disputes on their own, but not always. A court action may be necessary to find a solution. As Forbes explains, the average cost of a new property survey is between $300 and $700, but it may be worth it to properly understand where your land begins and ends so you can make a case for your rights.


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