Q: My mother is currently looking into a property on 15 acres of land; however there is another property behind it and the owner has a right-a-way that goes directly through the center of the property that is for sale. It is also close to the house. The owner refuses to option the right-a-way to the buyer even if he sells or dies.

Are there any loopholes around this? He is also not the best neighbor. He has junk, cars, and trash all over the property and he lives in a rundown trailer.

A: The “right-a-way” to which you refer may be an easement, and it gives him access to his property. Given how hard that owner probably has fought to get that easement, he’s not likely to give it up. If he did, he’d lose access to the road.

On the other hand, the easement goes right through the center of a 15-acre parcel, which is really going to wreck your mother’s ability to enjoy and use the property.

Unless this neighbor is willing to trade this easement for another that would provide equal access down one side of the property, rather than through it, I don’t know if your mother should make an offer. Especially since you’d be living next to a neighbor who appears, by your own description, to be running a junk yard and who has the right to traipse through your property at will.

If it were me, I’d take a pass, unless the deal was so good I couldn’t turn it down. But if you decide to proceed, make sure you talk to a real estate attorney to get as much information about the “right-a-way” as possible.

Published: Jun 25, 2004