Easement by Prescription

Definition - What does Easement by Prescription mean?

An easement by prescription, prescriptive easement or prescription easement refers to a right obtained by a person through the obvious and open use of another person’s real property over a certain period of time. This use of property is without any kind of permission from the owner.

With a prescriptive easement, an owner of property does not consent to the use of a part of their property, yet the right to use it is granted by law. This kind of easement is granted when a certain amount of time has passed with the property being used and without the owner of the property complaining about it. States have their own policies for the length of time that must pass without complaint.

Justipedia explains Easement by Prescription

Examples of easements by prescription include:

  • A maple syrup harvester has had two properties on either side of another person’s property. If they have been piping sap through the other person’s property for 10 years without complaint, the maple syrup harvester may be granted a prescriptive easement to keep piping their sap.
  • A person’s property lines up against a bird sanctuary, and people visiting the bird sanctuary frequently stand on the person’s property to view the birds. If a certain number of years pass without the property owner complaining about this, then the bird sanctuary viewers could have a prescriptive easement to use the property.
  • A group of hikers has been using the backyard of someone’s house for a trail, without the owner’s permission and without the owner complaining about it. These hikers may have a prescription easement to use the backyard.
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