Legal Land Issues: Property Easements, Adverse Possession Laws and Land-Locked Land

A veteran real-estate expert smoothes the wrinkles of land ownership in the Rural Real Estate column. This issue includes information on property easements and logging trucks, adverse possession laws and land-locked property.

| October/November 1997

Legal Land Issues

I am a real estate broker who deals exclusively with country land. There are just about as many questions regarding land ownership as there are landowners, and knowing what to do about a given situation can be difficult to determine.


A veteran real-estate expert smoothes the wrinkles of land ownership in the Land and the Law column. This issue includes information on land easements, adverse possession laws and land-locked property. 

Q. Our problem is with wide-load logging trucks (over 10 feet-wide) running next to our property. The easement through our place is 10 feet wide, plus there are two short curves in the road which put them over the easement. This easement was in use all last year. In time, the logging company also installed culverts which washed out access to our home for 21 days. We could not get our autos in and out. I stopped them for a short while this year, but now they have a restraining order to ensure they can use the road for 30 days. We need a good land attorney, one that is nearby but not associated with the sawmill or the landowner who is giving us trouble. How do we find one?  

—Michael Shanda
Forestville, CA

A. Good real estate attorneys are not always easy to find, Michael. You need an expert on easements and one that can help you mitigate damages caused from the road use, although you may not be able to stop such use entirely. If you are concerned about attorneys in your immediate area being sympathetic to the landowner and the mill, try finding one in other surrounding towns. To find an expert attorney, ask several real estate brokers and/or agents. Also, ask the title companies for the names of attorneys who handle real estate. By doing this, a pattern will emerge, and one or more names will stand out. Talk to each one, and be sure to ask about fees.

Q. I own a small farm of 10 acres. I have two acres between my neighbor and myself that used to be a hayfield. I no longer farm and simply let the hay grow up. About three years ago my neighbor asked if he could cut the hay. Naturally I said yes and was thankful. Since then he has cut it with his lawn tractor.  

Recently someone told me that if a party maintains another's piece of land, the land could be claimed after seven years by the one who maintained it. Is this true? I'm getting worried. Any advice you can give me will be greatly appreciated.  

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