Hi. Thanks for reading this.
We have recently purchased a parcel of land in Tennessee. There is a dirt road which crosses our property running from the county road to a landlocked adjacent farm property. The county road terminates at our property at the start of the dirt road. The only road frontage we have is the part of the county road that terminates at our property line. In other words, the county road intersects our property at a 90 degree angle, then continues as the dirt road to the adjacent farm property.
The property that we purchased was originally part of the adjacent property. At the time of the subdvision, 30 plus years ago, an ingress/egress easement over the existing dirt road was recorded favoring the now landlocked adjacent property. The wording of the easement is very plain with no reference to width, gates, or maintenance. The easement clearly runs with the property.
At one time, the entrance to our new property was gated, and the gate posts still stand, but there is no gate at present. I don't know how long it has been gone. There is an existing gate where the dirt road (easement) terminates at the adjacent property.
As of yet, we have not been able to contact the recorded owners of the adjacent property, but neighbors say it has been leased to a third party. We do not know the third party's name. The easement shows no sign of recent use in the area near the gate to the adjacent property. There are no cattle presently grazing there, nor are any crops growing.
Both properties are zoned for agricultural use, and there are no residences on either property. Our property has essentially been unused for may years prior to our purchase. The dirt road is in pretty poor shape, but is passable by tractor or four wheel drive truck.
Illegal hunters and four wheelers have been using the property prior to our purchase, according to the neighbors. We would like to deter them.
1. Can we put up a new locked gate? We would of course give a key to the owners of the adjacent property once we locate them.
2. What kind of rights to the easement would their tenant enjoy? Would it be the same as the owners?
3. Since the property was a farm when it was subdivided, would the easement be construed as being for farm access only?
4. We would like to put a no trespassing sign up at the entrance to our property. Is there any specific wording that is necessary?
5. Provided we can legally put up a locked gate, is their any obligation on the part of the owners of the adjacent property or their tenant to lock the gate behind them?
6. Anything else we should know?
I hasten to add, we have no information that the easement holders will be anything other than cooperative. We would just like to be informed ahead of time, rather than the other way around.