Plymouth, WI asked in Real Estate Law for Wisconsin

Q: If a property behind me can be acessed by public waterway, do I still have to give them an easement through my property?

The property next to me is bordered on the east side by a public waterway on county land. They currently access their land from the west through a gravel lane on my property. The old easement recently expired and I was wondering if I have to renew it.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton
  • Eau Claire, WI
  • Licensed in Wisconsin

A: In general, if an easement has expired, there is nothing requiring you to grant a new easement to an adjoining landowner. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has held that Wis. Stat. 893.33(6) requires property owners to re-record their easement within 40 years of the original grant, or risk losing the easement for lack of enforceability.

Here is a blog post you might want to reference on this topic.

I pasted a relevant excerpt below for you:

The relevant section of the Wisconsin Statutes has a two important components which give guidance to easement holders based on whether their easement was recorded prior to or after July 1, 1980. These provisions are summarized as follows:

Easements Recorded Prior to July 1, 1980. Under Wis. Stat. § 893.33(8), easements recorded prior to July 1, 1980 expire upon the earlier of 60 years after their recording date or 40 years after July 1, 1980, unless they are re-recorded. As a result, for any property owners who wish to preserve the benefit of a written easement that was recorded before July 1, 1980, the property owner has a period of 60 years in which to re-record the easement. As such, it is possible these easements may be already expiring.

Easements Recorded On or After July 1, 1980. Wis. Stat. § 893.33(6) states that written easements recorded on or after July 1, 1980 expire 40 years after their recording date, unless they are re-recorded. Therefore, these easements will not begin to expire until June 30, 2020.

I would sit down with a qualified real estate attorney and have them examine the deed that granted the original easement to the adjoining landowner and discuss with your confidentially your options moving forward.

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