If you are considering buying a piece of property, be sure that you have a legal route to access it. For example, a landlocked property has no access to a public road and you might have to seek an easement from a neighboring property owner. How you go about it may spare you legal battles later on.
Sometimes neighboring property owners refuse to grant an easement. In this case, you might go to court to secure a necessity easement. But if your neighbor is willing to discuss the matter, be sure that you protect your rights down the road with a written agreement.
Why you need a written agreement
A meeting with your neighbor may go well. Your neighbor understands your needs and is willing to grant you the permission you need to travel across the nearby property to your own land. You may come to a spoken agreement over property access, perhaps sealed with a handshake.
But The Motley Fool warns that a handshake agreement does not constitute a legally binding arrangement. Just because you and your neighbor verbally agree on an easement does not mean you can go to court to enforce it. This could cause you problems if your neighbor backs out of the agreement or accuses you of not living up to your end of the deal.
How a written agreement works
To have a legally binding easement, you will have to add the easement to your property deed. The other owner must also add the easement to his or her own deed. This not only spells out how the easement will work, but it allows the easement to transfer to another owner in the event you or the other owner sell your respective properties.
This is important because, without a written provision, the other owner may sell the property or die, leaving you with no way to prove that you made an agreement with the owner. This could lead to a protracted legal battle with the new owner over the easement that might not yield the outcome that you hope for.