Five-Acre Lot Cannot be Landlocked

Question: We own a home on a five-acre lot in Coconino County. A California buyer has just purchased the five-acre lot to the east of us, and plans to build a large home. The California buyer is landlocked, however, and needs access over our property to get to the main road. Do we have to give the California buyer access to the main road? If so, can we get compensation from the California buyer for this access?

Answer: The California buyer cannot be landlocked. This principle of law goes back to medieval England when the King wanted to be able to tax land at its highest value. Therefore, the King wanted all land to be usable, i.e., not landlocked. If the two fiveacre lots were originally owned by a single owner, an implied easement over your five-acre lot was created at the time of the lot split. Therefore, you would have no right to any compensation from the California buyer. The law is that, when the owner originally created the two five-acre lots, the owner impliedly granted access to the main road for the landlocked five-acre lot. If originally there was no single owner of both five-acre lots, the California buyer would have the right of private condemnation over your five-acre lot, but you are entitled to compensation for the reasonable value of this access to the main road. This right of private condemnation is similar to ADOT’s right of public condemnation for a highway where ADOT has to pay the property owner reasonable compensation for the loss of the condemned land.

Note: The compensation for the loss of the land in either private or public condemnation is usually determined by the testimony of appraisers.

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