Definition of "Access rights"

Colleen Lawler real estate agent

Written by

Colleen Lawlerelite badge icon

Colleen and Team - Coldwell Banker Gundaker

To define access rights, we must understand the need for access rights. There are several reasons for using access rights for any property; some are necessary and granted with little to no limitations or debate, while others can be more complicated and limited. The access rights definition can be explained as a right to access a property. The wording is important with easements in general, and the right of way is a good example of why, but even here, it can be noted that the wording does not state someone’s property. That is because there are different types of access rights.

Access rights in Real Estate

The access rights do not affect ownership rights as the property is not affected regarding its size or the right to be owned by the owner. The property owner will remain the owner, regardless of access rights. Access rights are easements that grant the right to access a property for a specific purpose and, in some cases, for a limited period of time.

The exact type of easement that affects a property should be verified prior to purchase. These can be found within the property’s legal documents or at the local government facility. The homebuyer should also be aware of what any particular access right demands and what are the types of interferences they might have to accept.

The two major types of access rights are analyzed below, and we can better understand how they work. Access rights are common, and most property owners deal with them. As some are detrimental to an owner’s ability to enjoy their property how they see fit, we’ll look at their permissive and restrictive natures in particular.

Access Rights to Roads

So what does access rights mean? When it comes to the most common type of access rights, we can look at every house surrounded by a yard; think about a single-detached home with a yard surrounding the property. When they leave the property, the owner needs to get to the public road in front of their house. The access right to public roads allows the owner’s right to access. It usually covers both vehicle and pedestrian rights of access as homeowners are entitled to access to and from a public road; otherwise, the owner could not use the property.

This type of access right is necessary for the property’s use and is considered a given right. The only problem that can arise is in case the road is a private one. That demands a search of the municipality’s records for a written easement as a municipality should keep a listing of road jurisdictions. Regarding private roads, rights of access have more limitations than public roads, and these restrictions can be seen in gated communities.

Access Rights to Private Property

When it comes to having access rights to someone else’s private property, the situation complicates. The Neighbouring Land Act of 1992 was created to allow people access to a neighboring property to preserve their property. This Act is cited and applied most commonly during amiable situations where one neighbor needs access to another’s land to be able to repair a fence that is his/her property that borders the two properties. 

However, if the situation is not amicable and access is not granted, the neighbor who wants to repair the fence can apply to Court for an access order. Through this order and under specific conditions, a set timeline, and hours, the works specified in the order are allowed to take place. Important to note that an access order is limited to work of preservation.

For neighbors that want to make improvements to their property, add another structure or build a pool, and need access to an adjacent property, the act does not help. Those owners need to obtain an agreement from the adjacent owner for the right of access. In that agreement, the purpose, limited time, and other terms negotiated must be specified.

Comments for Access Rights

Cathy Hayworth Cathy Hayworth said:

In a divorce agreement, the ex-husband was awarded ownership of the family home but not given exclusive access, with the ex-wife given equal access until the property is sold and the net equity proceeds divided evenly between them. What here is the definition/meaning of access ?

Dec 30, 2023  18:05:09

Real Estate Agent

Hello Cathy! Thank you for contacting us!

Access rights in real estate refer to the legal permissions that individuals or business entities must have to enter or use a property. These rights determine who can access the property, how they can use it, and what limitations or restrictions might exist. Access rights can change depending on particular circumstances and arrangements, for instance, divorce.

A homeowner can lose some access rights to a property in a divorce agreement. During a divorce, the court determines the division of property and assets. The court may give one spouse full ownership or primary residence rights while granting limited or restricted access rights to the other spouse. This can contain restrictions on entry, occupancy, or use of specific property areas. However, the outcome will depend on the state laws where the divorce occurs. It is essential to consult with a local real estate attorney specializing in family law to understand the rights and potential outcomes of a divorce agreement.

Jan 15, 2024  11:03:35
James James said:

Hello. In your discussion on "access rights" you mention that property owners are entitled to be able to create access to public roads. Is there a state statute or other law that covers this? If so, can you share the number? Thank you!

Feb 03, 2023  15:52:32

Real Estate Agent

Hello James, Thank you for reaching out to us. As access rights can vary in every US state, we strongly recommend contacting a real estate attorney in your area who can give you a detailed and accurate presentation on this matter.

Feb 21, 2023  11:47:41
Lisa Taylor Lisa Taylor said:

What does it mean in when a property tax doc states Access Type : Typical ?

Sep 12, 2021  14:54:53

Real Estate Agent

Hey Lisa! Thank you for reaching out to us. Regarding your question, we are unfamiliar with a typical access type related to property taxes. Because of this, we suggest you contact a real estate attorney, request clarification from a tax collector, or contact a real estate agent to help you out with this particular question.

Sep 22, 2021  03:23:04
Donna Bartley Donna Bartley said:

How is NLA "No Limits of Acces" obtained by a residential lot bordered by a commercial lot?

May 26, 2021  12:07:44

Real Estate Agent

Hey Donna! Thank you for reaching out to us. From your question, I understand that you need a legal way to access a landlocked residential lot (surrounded by a commercial lot). In this situation, the best option is to have an easement or land use agreement with the commercial lot owner recorded on the property's deed. If such documentation is unavailable to you, establishing one with the commercial lot owner is necessary but make sure it is recorded in the property's deed. Like this, if you decide to sell the property, the new buyer won't face the same situation as you. These easements and land use agreements can impose some limitations depending on what the two parties involved agree with, but this will give you access to a landlocked residential lot. For more information about your particular situation, I advise you to seek legal advice from a real estate attorney as they have the expertise for matters like these.

Jun 03, 2021  11:13:59
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