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  • Writer's pictureAttorney Jason A Greller

Prescriptive Easements - How Did My Neighbor Get a Right to Use My Land Without My Agreement?

A prescriptive easement is a legal right to use another person's property, acquired through continuous, open, and notorious use of the property without the owner's permission for a certain period of time. In essence, it is a right to use someone else's property based on a history of use rather than a formal agreement or deed.

In Wisconsin, the requirements for establishing a prescriptive easement typically include:

  1. Continuous use: The use of the property must be continuous and uninterrupted for a specified period. In Wisconsin, this period is generally 20 years.

  2. Open and notorious: The use of the property must be open and visible, meaning that the property owner should have been aware of the use or should have been able to discover it upon reasonable inspection.

  3. Hostile or adverse use: The use must be without the owner's permission or against the owner's interests. In other words, the use cannot be based on the owner's consent or an existing agreement.

  4. Exclusive use: The person claiming the easement must use the property independently, not in conjunction with the owner or other parties.

If your neighbor claims to have a prescriptive easement on your property, they must be able to demonstrate that their use of your property meets these criteria. It is essential to consult with a real estate attorney in Wisconsin to help you understand the specific laws and requirements related to prescriptive easements and to advise you on how to address the situation with your neighbor.

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