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Finn v. Williams

    Brief Fact Summary. Over many years, owners of a parcel land use a road on another’s land to get to a public highway. The road is closed by the owner.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. An easement by necessity may be given to an owner of a landlocked parcel over another person’s land in order for the owner to gain access to his land.

    Facts. Charles Williams owned a large parcel of land. He conveyed a portion of it to Thomas Bacon. The rest was inherited by Zilphia Jane Williams (Defendant). The Finns (Plaintiff) bought the land belonging to Bacon. The only way for Plaintiff to get to a public road is by using a road through Defendant’s land because the only other available private road was closed. Plaintiff requests an easement by necessity over Defendant’s land.

    Issue. If the original landowner did not claim a right of way over an area of land before any sort of conveyance was made, can a claim for an easement by necessity still be made?

    Held. Yes.
    Since there was at one time common ownership of the lands of Plaintiff and Defendant, an easement by necessity will remain over the lands of the original grantor. The right of way over the land is treated has having been dormant through the transfers of title, and can be used at any time by one of the landowners when no other means of access to a road exist. The easement is based on strict necessity, so it does not matter that the claim did not exist when the land were unified.

    Discussion. Buyers will not buy property unless they have guaranteed access to it by an easement over a neighboring land. Granting access effectuates the intent of the parties.


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