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North Carolina Road Rights: A Guide for Lot Buyers


Understanding road rights in western North Carolina is important for many buyers and sellers. Properties often have easements to allow access to other properties or public resources.

When purchasing real estate, the right of way can have a significant impact. It can affect how you use a property or its value. If the property is landlocked, you might also need a right of way on a neighboring property.

What is a Right-of-Way?

Right-of-way is a legal pathway for one to travel across the property of another. It can be either permanent or temporary access. Right-of-way may include linear strips, roads, and utilities such as water mains, sewers, and gas lines.

All this depends on the agreement between the parties involved. Public agencies must also accept right-of-way dedication for it to become legally recognized. 


Right-of-Way vs. Easement

Easements provide the right for another party to access a property for limited purposes. With a right-of-way, you have a specific type of easement. This type of easement provides people with the right to access a path on the property.

If the easement has no legal claim, its owner can remove it. However, removal from some easements may prove more challenging due to utility placements. 


Who Maintains the Right-Of-Way?

Cities and states are the ultimate custodians of public rights-of-way. However, developers, homeowner associations—or even users—can take on personal responsibilities. Without contract or deed restrictions, residents have no legal obligation to tackle any upkeep duties for these pathways.


Obtaining The Right-of-Way to a Landlocked Property

North Carolina property owners seeking a legal right-of-way can pursue three methods regulated by state law:


  • Initiating a Cartway Proceeding
  • Claiming a Prescriptive Easement
  • Easement by Implication


Each process must comply with applicable regulations for successful establishment. In many cases, various parties will make agreements to establish an easement. There can also be issues with a property owner blocking the right-of-way.

Negotiating a right-of-way deal with your neighbors is always the best action. However, you might need to hire an attorney if negotiations fail. An experienced real estate attorney will understand the various laws that affect the right of way and the necessary legal filings. 


The Mountain Life Real Estate Team!

You can count on The Mountain Life Real Estate Team to help you navigate the twists and turns of buying a lot in western North Carolina. Contact us today. We would be grateful for the opportunity to earn your business!


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