Florida law helps out owners of landlocked property. That means that if your property doesn't connect with a public or private road that lets you walk or drive into the property, you are entitled to use an easement over the neighboring land. This is called a Florida easement by necessity.
The term "landlocked" is one of those odd words with conflicting definitions. A country or state that is landlocked is one that doesn't border a sea, ocean or similar body of water, like Utah, for example. A property that is landlocked is one that is bordered on all sides by property belonging to someone else, so that the owner has no way of accessing the property by foot or vehicle. Needless to say, it is very inconvenient to own a property you cannot access. Many states, including Florida, offer relief to the owners of landlocked properties.
Access to Landlocked Property in Florida
The common law was the unwritten law from England and is still used in many states. Under common law, if a person obtained property that has no access, he may be given the right to pass over private land surrounding his property to get in. Florida specifically recognized and adapted this law in its written Property Code, section 704.01.
This statute says that a landlocked property owner shall be granted a Florida "easement by necessity" across another person's land when the landlocked property and the easement land were at one time owned by one individual. That essentially means that if a person owns land and conveys part of it to another person, if either piece is landlocked, the owner is presumed to have a right-of-way over the other land.
Florida Easement by Necessity
The Florida laws go even further than the common law, however, when describing types of easements. Common law easements by necessity only arise if, at some point in the past, the two parcels were owned by the same person. Florida Property Code 704.01 enlarges the protection to a landlocked owner by granting an easement by necessity over nearby land when necessary for reasonable accessm even when the properties were never owned by one person.
The law provides a "statutory way of necessity" other than the common-law right in every situation when a landowner doesn't have a way to get into or out of his land from the nearest road. This right is based on public policy and convenience, rather than common law. It applies to those who own land and want to build a house on it, grow crops, raise livestock or cut timber. Florida law says that the owner of the landlocked land can use an easement over neighboring land for "persons, vehicles, stock, franchised cable television service, and any utility service, including, but not limited to, water, wastewater, reclaimed water, natural gas, electricity, and telephone service." This can be through the land adjoining the hemmed-in land, or over and under it.
Asking for Court Assistance
If you are the owner or tenant of a landlocked property in Florida, you can discuss the easement of necessity with your neighbor, across whose property the driveway or other right of way would pass. But it is not up to the goodness of her heart. If she objects or forbids you to create an easement, you can bring the matter before a Florida court to obtain an easement. It's a good idea to contact a Florida real estate attorney first for advice and support.
- trail image by Colin Buckland from Fotolia.com