The value of a piece of property depends upon many factors including location, size, permitted use and the ability to get to and from it. Real estate professionals use the terms’ ingress and egress when referring to the ability to enter and exit a piece of property. Determining if a piece of land can be accessed without trespassing on someone else’s property might not be readily apparent.
The Basics of Ingress and Egress
Ingress is the right to enter one’s property, and egress is the right to exit it. Usually, the right to enter or leave property involves access to a public road. Property with at least one boundary line touching the road can freely access the road without crossing over land belonging to another person, but appearances can be deceiving when dealing with ingress and egress issues.
For example, if local town or city ordinances restrict the right of property owners to cut curbs for the installation of driveways, a person might be prohibited from entering or exiting from the property to the street. Unless the property offers another means of access to a public road, the parcel of land could be landlocked.
Certain types of housing developments are planned around the concept of landlocked parcels of land. Homes built along the fairways of a golf course enjoy a picturesque setting, but they are, essentially, landlocked. Providing ingress and egress for the homeowners usually involve private roads within the development that lead to a public street. The private roads rely upon easements to provide access to other people’s property.
An easement is a negotiated agreement in which a property owner gives others the right to limited use and access to the land. A landlocked owner of the property might negotiate an easement agreement with an adjoining property owner granting the right to cross over the adjoining land to access a public road. Easements can be as restrictive, such as:
- Allowing only for foot traffic
- As broad as the parties to the agreement decide
The easement agreement is recorded with the county clerk once it is reduced to writing and signed by the parties. Recording an easement gives notice to future owners of its existence and terms, so they will be obligated to abide by it. Failing to record an easement could result in the loss of a property owner’s rights to ingress and egress in the event of a sale or transfer of ownership of either parcel.