Real Estate Law
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IN Tennessee it takes 20 years to establish a prescriptive easement. If you can demonstrate that your father used the land, open, adverse and continuous during that 20 years. Generally adverse just means that he knew the property was not his and used it anyway and that the actual owner never granted permission making it an adverse use of the land. Continuous is open to interpretation it does literally mean continuously, but it should have been routinely used throughout the 20 year period. And open just requires that he openly used it where the actual owner could have seen him or should have reasonably known that he was using it. (basically he did not hide his use, but it was obvious to actual owner). With that you have a prescriptive easement. The issue comes up when someone challenges it. The only way that you can enforce it is to go to Court and file a suit to "quiet title" and have the Judge declare that the prescriptive easement exist. You could take that final order and record it in the real property records of your county after final judgment and it would then be there forever for use by some later owner. It would be a legal determination that the easement was created (for the limited purpose in this case of ingress and egress from your property). You should consult with a local real estate attorney and have him review the facts as well. It may be that you could negotiate with the current owner a price to purchase a written easement that is equal to or less than the cost of the attorney fees going to Court. Buy my first stop would be to a local real estate attorney as he could also negotiate that potential purchase if he also mentions that once the suit is filed then actual landowner is going to be out attorney fees as well.
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