Providing Real SolutionsSince 1999
Brent D. Ratchford photo

Can private owners restrict access to a Texas lake?

On Behalf of | Jan 17, 2024 | Real Estate Disputes |

Lakes come in all shapes and sizes in Texas. Some lakes are small and may only hold water during certain parts of the year. They may dry up when the weather is hot or rain is scarce. Other lakes cover numerous acres and are present year-round regardless of environmental conditions.

Under the Texas constitution, all public lakes technically belong to the state and should therefore be accessible to members of the public. However, property around lakes often commands a premium price and belongs to private property owners.

Can a landowner prevent people from accessing a lake in Texas?

Lake access rights can be complicated

Neither businesses nor private property holders have the right to restrict access to a lake. Even marinas operating facilities for vessels cannot prevent members of the public from using docks and other facilities in most cases.

However, actually gaining access to a lake can be a very challenging process if there isn’t any accessible public land abutting the lake. When every inch of the frontage on the lake sells to private property owners, those individuals may threaten people with trespassing charges and forcible removal from the land or water if they attempt to use the lake.

Often, those who live near a specific body of water may benefit from reaching an agreement with an individual property owner that allows them to use a specific point of access to the water. Otherwise, they could face confrontations from property owners who do not want them to use their beach or access the water with a boat near their property.

Disputes about water access can quickly spiral out of control. Learning more about water access rights in Texas may benefit those who enjoy recreational aquatic activities or fishing and hope to legally spend time on a nearby lake and private property owners alike.


FindLaw Network