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What is a prescriptive easement?

On Behalf of | Feb 19, 2024 | Real Estate Disputes |

Prescriptive easements can significantly affect land ownership and use. Understanding the concept of a prescriptive easement, how one is established, and its implications for property owners is essential for anyone involved in real estate or land use.

In Texas, a prescriptive easement is established through the continuous, open and notorious use of another’s property without the owner’s explicit permission for a period defined by state law. It must be so obvious that it allows the legal owner to notice and challenge it.

Legal requirements and recognition

For a prescriptive easement to be legally recognized in Texas, the use must meet specific criteria:

  • Continuous and uninterrupted: The use of the property must be continuous for the entire statutory period without significant interruption.
  • Open and notorious: The use must be visible and apparent so the property owner is reasonably expected to know it.
  • Adverse and under a claim of right: The use must be without the property owner’s permission and in a manner that could be considered contrary to the owner’s interests.

Once a prescriptive easement is recognized, the easement holder gains a right to use the property in a specific manner, which can limit the property owner’s ability to use, develop or sell their property freely. For example, if a neighbor gains a prescriptive easement to utilize a portion of another’s land as a driveway, the landowner may be unable to build on or obstruct that portion of the property.

Property owners must ensure they understand the specifics of prescriptive easements given what is at stake. Having someone on their side who can explain this matter and offer solutions to prevent it from occurring can be beneficial for all property owners.


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