Ingress and Egress Easements in Real Estate

The PropertyClub Team
Jun 27th 2020
We're looking at ingress and egress, what the definition of each is, how these easement rights work, and on which types of real estate transactions they apply to.

Not all properties include convenient, private driveways that go straight to the nearest public road. Sometimes, people will be interested in real estate that doesn’t have a private driveway to a public road or otherwise must use the private property of another person or organization to reach one.

Let’s break down the rights of ingress and egress in real estate and explain their differences.

Ingress and Egress In a Nutshell

In brief, ingress and egress refer to the right to enter and exit a property, respectively. In most cases, these ingress and egress rights also intersect with the right to use public roads.

Easements

An easement is the right to use the property of another person to a limited extent, and most often in cases dealing with ingress and egress. Basically, you need an “access” easement if you ever need to cross over the property of another person to enter or exit your own property. A great example would be having an easement to cross someone’s driveway to reach your garage if you share that piece of property.

Alternatively, you might have an entire home on what is mostly the property of another person. So you might need to use a private road to get to your driveway and/or reach the public road in the nearby area.

Ingress and Egress Easement Rights Explained

Typically, any property that doesn’t have ingress or egress rights of its own will require access easement rights over any adjacent private properties. These are very limited rights that only allow you to use other pieces of property in very limited ways.

For instance, a landlocked property may use one or more easements to access public roads by using the private roadways of other private properties nearby.

If you’re buying landlocked property, however, don’t always assume that a gravel road or a similar path is necessarily the easement point. It may be a different location due to the property needs of the surrounding private territory. Fortunately, house deeds and other legal documents should have all easements officially recorded for records.

Negotiating Easements

Any landlocked property owner has to negotiate easement agreements with adjoining property owners as soon as possible. This is often covered as standard procedure when a new landlocked property is being purchased.

The details of an easement can vary. For instance, some ingress or egress easements will only allow for foot traffic or may allow for single file car movement. It’s ultimately up to both parties included reaching an agreement.

When it comes to real estate, easements are usually officially recorded, similarly to titles and other publicly available records. This also means you can buy or sell easements alongside property deeds, which may come into play when negotiating the price for a given property.

Easement agreements should be recorded with county clerks as well. Both property owners must collect signatures. Furthermore, any future owners of a piece of landlocked property will need to be notified of easement rules and stipulations and will also need to abide by those stipulations if they don’t decide to ask for editing negotiations.

What About New Construction?

Any easement rights that are granted after the fact are only between neighbors or property owners and the specific person requesting the easement rights at that time. Ingress and egress easements can’t be included for new occupants if you or another new property owner decides to expand.

Can You Secure Ingress and Egress Without Easements?

Yes. As mentioned, ingress and egress rights can be included as part of property deeds. Owners for landlocked properties may particularly appreciate this point, since documenting such entry and exit rights on the deed is much easier. This also prevents surrounding property owners from trying to make changes to ingress or egress agreements without the landlocked property owner’s consent.

Alternatively, property owners can rely on land use agreements. Such contracts explicitly lay out various duties or responsibilities between two property owners. These must also be recorded with the county clerk’s office, just like an easement, for public records purposes. These also allow for significant flexibility, so ultimate rights are up to the negotiations between both sides.

For instance, land-use agreements can limit the weight of vehicles that can cross the surrounding property, or state how much the landlocked property owner needs to pay the neighboring property owner for road upkeep.

Public Road Access

Technically, public roads are available for everyone to access. However, owning property that is adjacent to a public road doesn’t necessarily mean that the property also includes rights for ingress or egress.

Here’s an example: a house both faces a public street and has a rear garage that opens up to an alley behind the property. Any driveways that enter onto the alley may provide single ingress or egress points for all houses that use the alley rather than a specific ingress and egress point for every piece of property.

In fact, many access points on the roads are somewhat limited by default. This means that, when buying or selling a property, you might need to negotiate ingress or egress rights if you also want to create a driveway or otherwise alter the property for easier entry and exit.

Landlocked Parcels

Any “landlocked parcel” is a piece of land that doesn’t touch a public road. These locations are far from rare; for instance, houses in private developments or in the middle of golf courses are similar terrain may have to ingress or egress through different private roads in order to reach the nearest public road.

A more commercial example might be a fast-food restaurant surrounded by the parking lot of a large shopping center like a mall. Easements must be in place upon buying the property. Otherwise, customers or owners will not be able to get to the landlocked parcel of land without negotiating crossover rights with the other land’s owner(s).

Conclusion

Ultimately, ingress and egress are vital rights for entry and exit to personal property and need to be considered in any real estate agreement. If you’re buying or overseeing the purchase of a landlocked parcel of land, make sure that both parties understand ingress and egress and are able to come to reasonable conclusions regarding these rights before going through the deal.