A landlocked parcel of real estate is an isolated plot of land that does not have direct access to a public road. To access landlocked property, you have to cross real estate owned by another person. Landlocked property owners have legal rights-of-way to their real estate, commonly called easement rights. An easement is a legal right to use a portion of land not owned by you to gain access to property you do own. Easements in South Carolina come in various forms.
Express easements are agreements in writing contained in a deed or contract. This type of easement must provide the location and dimensions of the property used as a right-of-way. If the person owning the land you use for access to your property sells his real estate, an express easement can be granted to you upon the seller placing a right-of-way in the deed. South Carolina law states that you must clearly define express easement agreements to avoid investigation of the transaction by a court.
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This type of easement is created when certain conditions are met. An implied easement must be necessary in order for the landlocked property owner to enjoy, or benefit from their real estate. The owner of the land has to divide the property and either sell a parcel or retain a section of the land. An easement must have been used prior to splitting or selling the real estate. Implied easements are considered a necessity when two sections of real estate are configured in a way that makes a right-of-way across one piece of property imperative to accessing the second area of land. These implied easements by necessity are most common in landlocked situations when the only way for you to access a public roadway is by crossing the adjoining property. Access previously created by the original landowner while dividing his property into parcels is viewed as implied easement by preexisting use if the right-of-way is regularly used to reach one of the parcels.
Easement by Prescription
Use of land you do not own to access your own property without any type of agreement is known as easement by prescription. Under state law, the right-of-way must be continuously in use for 20 years to be recognized as this type of easement. To claim the easement right in a dispute, you must be able to prove the usage was open, commonplace, and continued without interruption.
Theresa Custodio is a Michigan-certified nurseryman with over 10 years experience. She has spent over five years working for the State of Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality writing permits and violation notices, which are published for public record. She has a Bachelor of Science degree from Eastern Michigan University with a major in biology and a minor in conservation and resource use.