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  1. #1

    Default ATV Trespass on Easement for Landlocked Landowner

    My question involves real estate located in the State of:
    PA, private easement for right of way to landlocked property owners, in regards to who should have unrestricted ATV access to this right of way, our property owner rights and their rights as deeded to them in this private right of way easement to access their land, (info below questions):

    We believe it is our right as land owners to post this private easement of right of way with restriction of ATV use by non-land owners. Is this correct?

    Also, is it correct that the landlocked landowners can fence off the 50' right of way and restrict us from using it, as they said they would after they saw our no trespass poster?

    Just because they have a 50' right of way to access their land, we believe we are still entitled to farm the land they do not utilize for their driveway. Is this correct?

    Is this landlocked land owner allowed to drive off their main driveway, about 20' wide, and run over our crop-planted portion of this 50' right of way easement? (They do this already because they do not maintain where they drive and cannot pass through the deep, muddy ruts they create with their big trucks.)

    Who is responsible for the upkeep of this drive?

    They also said we are more at risk for liability of injuries on posted land by these ATV riders who trespass than if we did not post our property. Is this correct?

    Are we allowed to put up a fence and a latched (not locked) gate at the end of their 50' easement right of way on our land? (this would be our other option versus posting no trespassing, to reduce the amount of public ATV use.)


    We are landowners, with a 50' right of way deeded to landlocked owners behind our property. This right of way easement is a private deed to these landlocked property owners, it is not a public right of way easement.

    We put a poster up, near their driveway, No Trespass for ATV use as it is our land.

    Landlocked land owners became very upset and stated they can fence and gate off the 50' of right of way easement if they so choose, because they did not want the public (other neighbors) to think they were restricting the ATV use to cross our land on their easement right of way.

    Other neighbors use this right of way un-restrictedly, without our permission, as if it was a public right of way. We do not want all the ATV use by non-land owners at all hours of the day and night when the land locked owners are not around, which is what is currently occurring. Our neighbors on the other side of this right of way have asked us to post it no trespassing because of the constant use of ATVs across this drive along their property line.

    Any legal guidance as to laws pertaining to our legal rights as property owners and the land locked, private right of way easement land owners are would be helpful.

    Thanks!
    Landowner NW PA

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    38,867

    Default Re: Easement/right of way-non landowner ATV trespass, Land Owner Rights

    Also, is it correct that the landlocked landowners can fence off the 50' right of way and restrict us from using it, as they said they would after they saw our no trespass poster?
    No. Only if they have exclusive rights to the easement do they have any right to prevent the servient tenant (the person who owns the underlying land; aka: you) from using the easement for any use that does not frustrate the dominant tenant's (the entity allowed to use the easement) rights. Even if they had exclusive use, it is most likely they would not have a right to install a fence as it is not an inherent right by being a dominant tenant to install a fixture upon the property they are allowed to use yet do not own.

    as to the ATV use: first, you need to know what the rights afforded the dominant tenant are. If it is for ingress and egress only with no other restrictions, then it comes down to what are they doing with the ATV/s. If they are merely using the easement to go to and from their property, they would be allowed. They would not have the right to use the easement for a play area.

    the rights of the dominant tenant do extend to all visitors to the dominant tenants property unless specifically restricted by the easement documents.

    Is this landlocked land owner allowed to drive off their main driveway, about 20' wide, and run over our crop-planted portion of this 50' right of way easement?
    they have no rights to leave the easement for any reason. That would be a trespass upon your property. In the case where they are entering the other neighbors property, they are committing a trespass against him. For that neighbor, they should contact the police and report the trespass.




    I have a question: why are all of these ATV's utilizing the easement when the dominant tenants are not home? Is there some facility or area where ATV's are commonly used upon the dominant tenants property?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Easement/right of way-non landowner ATV trespass, Land Owner Rights

    There is no public land or other facility beyond this landlocked area.
    There are four wheeler trails in the wooded area that are quite extensive and a stream. Beyond the trails are other camps and posted property owned by others.
    The people crossing this right of way easement are friends of the landowner of the landlocked area and believe that they are free to drive out there all day and night long as the please as if it were a public access road.
    The easement lists the property owners of the landlocked land only access to their property. Ingress and Egress only, not exclusive use.
    It does not say that this easement is a public access point either.
    The landowners have ATVs and enter their property in trucks mostly.

    The ATVs we are concerned about are utilizing this driveway access for their own pleasure, not to visit anyone as the landowners are often not there, (they are not the landowners of the landlocked property, and quite honestly I cannot understand why they go in and out of there all day and night long when no one else is around at this rural camp.) These people are friends of the landlocked landowner though. Even if these landowners may have told their friends that they are permitted unlimited access, we, the property owners do not believe this should be permitted.
    It actually is kinda creepy that they are watching us and our neighbors all the time.
    To clarify, the sweet corn which we planted on a portion of the 50' right of way are on a part that is not used as a driveway with a large buffer of space beside their driveway too so as to not block their access. Our attorney had instructed at time of purchase; it is still our land, we are able to utilize it for crops, and we were to never restrict access to their property, which we have not done in the last 10+ years we have lived here.
    We will continue not to restrict access to the landowner, but do not agree that we are not permitted to post no trespassing in regards to these ATVs.
    We do not agree this landlocked land owner can fence and post our land as he stated he would and as you have confirmed he cannot.
    This landlocked landowner actually took down our No Trespass/ No ATV poster when he found it.
    Please do not hesitate to ask if you have more questions. We are quite perplexed on what these people are doing and how to get this to stop legally.

  4. #4
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    Jan 2006
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    38,867

    Default Re: Easement/right of way-non landowner ATV trespass, Land Owner Rights

    Landowner NW PA;537704]There is no public land or other facility beyond this landlocked area.
    so they are accessing the dominant easement owners property. Well, as long as the dominant tenant permits this, it is an allowable use of the easement.



    The people crossing this right of way easement are friends of the landowner of the landlocked area and believe that they are free to drive out there all day and night long as the please as if it were a public access road.
    they pretty much are. As I said, the dominant tenants rights extends to guests and visitors of the dominant tenant. That means if the dominant tenant can use the easement 24/7, so can their guests and invitees.

    The easement lists the property owners of the landlocked land only access to their property. Ingress and Egress only, not exclusive use.
    that means they cannot prevent you from using the easement and cannot take any action to exclude your use of the easement.



    The ATVs we are concerned about are utilizing this driveway access for their own pleasure, not to visit anyone as the landowners are often not there, (they are not the landowners of the landlocked property, and quite honestly I cannot understand why they go in and out of there all day and night long when no one else is around at this rural camp.) These people are friends of the landlocked landowner though. Even if these landowners may have told their friends that they are permitted unlimited access, we, the property owners do not believe this should be permitted.
    but the fact is; as long as the dominant tenant is allowing these people access to their land, they have a right to use the easement to get there. They do not have to be home.


    To clarify, the sweet corn which we planted on a portion of the 50' right of way are on a part that is not used as a driveway with a large buffer of space beside their driveway too so as to not block their access.
    Planting on the easement is not allowed. That would be restricting their rights. While you can argue that the portion used as a drive is not restricted, depending on exactly the facts of the matter, your planting may or may not be seen as an improper restriction.

    Our attorney had instructed at time of purchase; it is still our land, we are able to utilize it for crops, and we were to never restrict access to their property, which we have not done in the last 10+ years we have lived here.
    unless there is something in the easement related documents that restricts the use of the easement to something less than the 50', they have a 50' wide easement.

    We will continue not to restrict access to the landowner, but do not agree that we are not permitted to post no trespassing in regards to these ATVs.
    you can post whatever you want. For those it applies to, fine. For those it doesn't apply to, they simply need to ignore the sign.

    This landlocked landowner actually took down our No Trespass/ No ATV poster when he found it.
    he doesn't have a right to remove such a sign. You do have a right to post your property as you choose and have a right to prevent actual trespassers from utilizing the easement. The problem is; what you have presented here does not make these other people out to be trespassers but guests of the dominant tenant.

    Please do not hesitate to ask if you have more questions. We are quite perplexed on what these people are doing and how to get this to stop legally.
    From what you have described, I don't see much defense on your part. The only possibilities I can see are:

    are the people actually guests of the dominant tenant? Basically, if the dominant tenant said to them, in essence: "come on over anytime and ride my land", they are. As such, you do not have the right to restrict the use of the easement. If they are not guests of the dominant tenant, you have all rights to actually prevent the use of the easement.

    is the use overburdening the easement. If the usage of the easement is beyond the intent of the grantor and is causing damage to the land, the servient tenant can prevent the use beyond that intent. The problem; it requires a courts decision as to it being an over burdening.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Default Re: ATV Trespass on Easement for Landlocked Landowner

    The dominant tenement of an ingress egress easement cannot invite "guests" over to ride up and down the easement continuously as a form of recreation or entertainment. If the easement is for ingress egress visitors are allowed of course but a visit would be seen as driving once over the easement for a visit, having a visit, and regressing over the easement to a different public or private way. There is a test of reasonableness here and one of the questions would be the frequency of "visits". Would driving up and down the easement fifty times in an hour be allowed? Are fifty "visits" an hour by one "guest" reasonable or an overburden of the easement?

    Riding part of the way across an easement, but not going all of the way to the benefited property, or to an egress point, and turning around, could not be seen as an ingress or egress use. It would be an overburden.

    You will need witnesses/video evidence of acts of overburdening for review by a court, as jk suggests, as that is your remedy.

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