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Can my neighbor stop me from passing over their land?

| Jul 5, 2021 | Real Estate Disputes

When you live in a fast-paced city like New York, sometimes you do not see what is happening until it is too late.

For example, you buy a piece of real estate intending to turn it into a restaurant. It has easy access through a short alleyway onto a street with plenty of pedestrian traffic. A few months after you have signed the deal and are almost ready to open, you notice a problem. The neighbor has begun to knock down their building and claims that the alleyway is part of their property. They have plans to fence it off and say you will need to pay them a hefty fee if you want to retain access across it.

An easement guarantees a right to pass over someone else’s land

It may be the case that the neighbor does own what you assumed to be a public alleyway. In this case, you need to seek an easement.

An easement is a legal way to ensure the right to cross or use another person’s land. Some easements rely on negotiation, and one landowner can demand a fee from the person who wants access. If you have no other way to reach your property, you may be able to claim an “easement by necessity,” for which you should not have to pay.

If, however, your property actually has a second access, but onto a less desirable street, you may need to strike a deal with the owner of the alley and pay for an easement to ensure customers can continue to cross to access your restaurant. Understanding the relevant laws is crucial to find solutions to real estate disputes. Carrying out adequate pre-purchase checks to determine boundaries and access can help avoid them in the first place.

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