What Are My Rights Under Ingress/Egress Easements?


Are you searching for attorneys in Seattle, Washington who understand all things easements? Look no further than Frey Buck. We are professionals who have significant experience in real property issues. 

What Are Ingress and Egress Easements? 

What is an Easement? 

According to Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, an easement is: “the grant of a nonpossessory property interest that grants the easement holder permission to use another person’s land.” Simply put, it allows the person who owns the easement to use the landowner’s property for certain specified purposes. 

What Do Ingress and Egress Mean?

Ingress means to enter, and egress means to exit. In terms of easements, this typically pertains to entering and exiting a property parcel. It can also grant access to utility companies and water drainage. 

Why Would I Need an Easement to Access My Property?

If your property touches a public road, you don’t need an easement. However, not all property has access to public roads, and therefore, requires an easement to ingress and egress the parcel. 

Sometimes the only way to reach a public road is by driving through a neighbor’s (or neighbors’) property (or properties). 

Rural areas where public roads are fewer are more apt to have easements. This can also happen in subdivisions and private developments. 

Laws and Rights Regarding Easements

Not all easements are perpetual, meaning they go on essentially forever. Some are temporary, and some are only valid when held by the current property owner or easement holder. If you are purchasing a property that requires an easement, please ensure that any easement you need will transfer to you when you purchase the property. 

It is important to record exactly where the easement should be placed and used when creating an easement. It is also crucial to specify the developer’s rights in the easement. To run with the land easements must be recorded on the property rolls.

Your property may also be subject to an easement associated with the development, created by the developer for future action. Developer’s rights may include: widening the road/driveway, adding sidewalks, paths, street lamps, benches, fencing, or even storage and parking. 

Some easements only allow exclusive access; this means that only the easement holder may use the easement (with these, the easement holder alone, and none of their friends, family, etc.) may use the easement. This is not common and can only happen if specifically stated in the easement. Non-exclusive easements are significantly more common. 

Your easement should specify who is responsible for maintenance and repairs. If it does not specify, your jurisdiction should have specific rules and set responsibilities to assist you. Contact your Seattle real estate attorney to learn about the specifics.


What Happens If I Need an Easement But Don’t Have One? 

If you don’t have a documented easement but need one and cannot afford one, or the servient estate does not want to grant one, you have three options. 

These three options are common law ways of necessity, statutory ways of necessity, and prescriptive easements. 

Keep in mind that the person seeking the easement is responsible for providing the requirements for establishing an easement and proving that these have been met. 

Common-Law Ways of Necessity

This need for an easement appears when a parcel is broken up and sold. 

After being sold, one of the parcels (whether owned by the previous owner or the new owner, does not matter) may no longer have access to the road frontage and is, therefore, ‘landlocked.’ 

This property is still considered landlocked even if there is a physical way to access the landlocked property. Yet, the easement is inaccessible or impractical to reach for some or all of the year. 

This easement is only granted to the landlocked owner if there is no other reasonable or practical way to access their property. 

If Common Law Ways of Necessity is used, the recipient of the landlocked parcel will not have to pay for the easement. 

Statutory Ways of Necessity

This easement is for instances where a piece of property is landlocked, and a prior common owner of that parcel and an adjoining parcel with access to a public road cannot be found. 

The courts can only grant this easement if: the property will be used as a dwelling, (b) for farming, ranching, or other agricultural purposes, or (c) for timber raising or cutting.

The easement route is the nearest, shortest, and most practical route to a public road.

The recipient of the easement is willing to pay for easement access. The owner of the servient estate must be compensated. 

Prescriptive Easements

This easement is recognized by the courts when a person and/or his predecessors have continually, without interruption, using a portion of the land, with the knowledge of that owner or used a portion of land in an open, visible, notorious way that the landowner should have known of its use, for over 20 years, without the owner taking legal action against those using their land. “Notorious” means openly using the property as if the user held title to the property and had every right to use it.

If the courts grant an easement, the easement holder does not have to compensate the servient estate for the easement. 

How a Lawyer Can Help Answer More Questions Like This

Frey Buck’s attorneys are well versed in real property matters like easements. 

Your real estate/real property attorney/Seattle lawyer can share their knowledge of easements with you, or they may research the local laws on your behalf to find the answers you need. 

Contact Frey Buck to Find Answers 

Searching for attorneys in Seattle Washington? You’re at the right place. The attorneys at Frey Buck are here to help you. With Frey Buck, your Seattle real estate attorney will get you the answers you need and a plan of action for the results you want.

Reach us using our contact form, call us at (206) 486-8000, email us at, or visit our office at 1200 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1900, Seattle, Washington 98101.

reach us today!


Send Us a Message