Reviewed by Jan 29, 2021| Updated on
“Landlocked”, in the real estate sense, refers to a piece of property that has no direct legal access road, except an adjacent lot. A vacant lot behind a shopping mall, which can only be reached by walking through the mall, qualifies as this sort of lot. Landlocked land is ‘locked up’ or surrounded by other properties.
Usually, landlocked plots are the product of subdivisions or the division of a larger tract of land into smaller parcels sold individually. Ideally, each of the smaller parcels would have access to a public right-of-way, but that is sometimes not possible.
For example, a seller may choose to subdivide a large square parcel in the centre with a landscape feature, such as a mountain, that is unfit for construction. He might leave it landlocked rather than carving out a gerrymandered parcel that gives access to the mountain by road.
Landlocked land, due to its inaccessibility, is usually worth less than other nearby properties. But that does not mean nothing is worth it. The U.S. laws protect property owners’ right to “productive use” of their land, which generally means the right to access a public highway.
There are different kinds of easements, some easier to obtain than others. Still, smart investors who grasp the rules will consider successful landlocked property investments.
A polite agreement with a nearby landowner is the stress-free way to get an easement. They may be tempted to make an oral promise that allows a landlocked owner to cross their land, but buyers are advised to write the promise. A written easement created by a lawyer and registered with the local deed provides security for landlocked property in its own right.
The neighbours could change their minds with a verbal arrangement, or sell their land to a less hospitable proprietor. Finally, when the landlocked parcel goes up for sale again, the neighbour’s word won’t carry much weight. A permanent written easement avoids all of these potential problems.
It is necessary to remember that required filing for an easement can incur legal costs. It may also leave the landlocked owner with a wrathful neighbour who may challenge the decision. Exceptions to an easement by law, such as land patents issued by the U.S. federal government, even made hundreds of years ago exist.