What’s the legal term for land access rights?

I live next to a neigborhood with a home owners association. One road dead ends at my property and I’ve been using this as a means of entering/exiting the property; the driveway is hard to get out on a busy road.

Recently, the association complained to the city and they put a barricade on my property line, preventing me from using the road.

I know there are laws that state that if someone uses a piece of property long enough, they have the right to continue to use that property in the same manner. I was wondering what this is called.

4 Responses to “What’s the legal term for land access rights?”

  1. Master_Beta Says:


  2. Adam B Says:

    Easement by prescription.

    And this is only one reason why "neighborhood associations" should be abolished.

  3. Stephen T Says:

    [edit] Easement by prescription
    See also: Adverse possession
    Easements by prescription, also called prescriptive easements, are implied easements that give the easement holder a right to use another person’s property for the purpose the easement holder has used the property for a certain number of years, which varies from state to state. Prescriptive easement is not the same as adverse possession, which allows a party to acquire title to real property by asserting possession over it for the statutory period. Requirements vary among states to successfully claim adverse possession.

    In California, for example, an adverse possessor is required to assert possession of the property AND pay all property taxes for at least five years. In New York, a claim of right is an additional element of both adverse possession and easement by prescription.[9]

    Prescriptive easements are a type of implied easement, in that they arise even though they are not expressly created or recorded. Unlike other implied easements, however, prescriptive easements are hostile (i.e., without the consent of the true property owner). Prescriptive easements do not convey the title to the property in question, only the right to utilize the property for a particular purpose. They often require less strict requirements of proof than fee simple adverse possession.

    Once they become legally binding, easements by prescription hold the same legal weight as written or implied easements. Before they become binding, they hold no legal weight and are broken if the true property owner acts to defend his ownership rights. Easement by prescription is typically found in legal systems based on common law, although other legal systems may also allow easement by prescription.

    Laws and regulations vary among local and national governments, but some traits are common to most prescription laws. Generally, the use must be open (i.e. obvious to anyone), actual, continuous (i.e., uninterrupted for the entire required time period), and adverse to the rights of the true property owner. The use also generally must be hostile and notorious (i.e., known to others). Unlike fee simple adverse possession, prescriptive easements typically do not require exclusivity.

    The period of continuous use for a prescriptive easement to become binding is generally between 5 and 30 years depending upon local laws (usually based on the statute of limitations on trespass). Generally, if the true property owner acts to defend his property rights at any time during the required time period the hostile use will end, claims on adverse possession rights are voided, and the continuous use time period resets to zero.

    In some jurisdictions, if the use is not hostile but given actual or implied consent by the legal property owner, the prescriptive easement may become a regular or implied easement rather than a prescriptive easement and immediately becomes binding. In other jurisdictions, such permission immediately converts the easement into a terminable license, or restarts the time for obtaining a prescriptive easement.

    Government owned property held for common use is generally immune from prescriptive easement in most cases, but some other types of government owned property may be subject to prescription in certain instances. In New York, such government property is subject to a longer statute of limitations of action, 20 years instead of 10 years for private property.[citation needed]

    Prescription may also be used to end an existing legal easement. For example, if a servient tenement holder were to erect a fence blocking a legally deeded right-of-way easement, the dominant tenement holder would have to act to defend his easement rights during the statutory period or the easement might cease to have legal force, even though it would remain a deeded document.

    Right-of-way for access is among the most common easement by prescription.

  4. CBURNETT Says: