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legalgems, Arbitrator
Category: Real Estate Law
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My property has in ingress and egress easement running

Customer Question

My property has in ingress and egress easement running through it for our neighbors to reach their house via a shared driveway. My neighbors want me to prevent my dogs from entering their land. I live in Walworth county Wisconsin. Am I allowed to put a gate across the driveway that does not lock at the point on the driveway where my land adjoins theirs.
Thank you
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  legalgems replied 1 year ago.

The servient estate is the land that serves the dominant estate (the land with the easement on it). The servient estate owner is still the legal owner, but they cannot interfere with the dominant estate owner's right to use the easement.

So if a gate does not obstruct usage, then it is generally permitted.

Relevant case law:
"An easement "is a permanent interest in another's land, with a right to enjoy it fully and without obstruction. ..." Schwartz v. Evangelical Society, 46 Wis. 2d 432, 438, 175 N.W.2d 225 (1970), quoting Hazeton v. Putnam, 3 Pin. 107, 115, 3 Chand. 117 (1850). While the owner of property subject to an easement may make all proper use of his land including the right to make changes in or upon it, nevertheless such owner may not unreasonably interfere with the use by the easement holder. Wisconsin Telephone Co. v. Reynolds, 2 Wis.2d *344 649, 652, 87 N.W.2d 285 (1958). This oft-repeated statement of the servient owner's rights and duties virtually always phrases his duty in terms of protecting the easement holder's right to use the easement for the purpose for which it is created. Also see, Guse v. Flohr, 195 Wis. 139, 217 N.W. 730 (1928); reh. den. 196 Wis. 565, 221 N.W. 10; F. W. Woolworth Co. v. Vogelsang, 176 Wis. 366, 187 N.W. 179 (1922); 3 Tiffany Real Property, sec. 811 (3rd ed. 1939); 2 Thompson On Real Property, supra, sec. 431. The dominant owner's (plaintiffs') interest is not an estate in land, but rather a right to use the land of another for a special purpose not inconsistent with the general property in the owner. 2 Thompson On Real Property, supra, sec. 315. Thus, this court has stated, "A conveyance of a right-of-way two rods wide is a conveyance of a right-of-way over a strip of land two rods wide, not a conveyance of the strip of land itself. Title to the land does not pass but only the right to pass over it." Kleck v. VanSchoyck, 250 Wis. 413, 418, 17 N.W.2d 490 (1947)......

An obstruction or disturbance of an easement is anything which wrongfully interferes with the privilege to which the owner of the easement is entitled by making its use less convenient and beneficial than before. Obstructions or disturbances are unauthorized and constitute nuisances."

Hunter v. McDonald 78 Wis. 2d 338 (1977)

So in sum, the main concern will be whether any proposed development hinders the dominant estate owner's use of the easement.

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Information provided is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a personal attorney is always recommended so your particular facts may be considered. Thank you and take care.

Expert:  legalgems replied 1 year ago.

checking in on the above;

I will be away for the next week so if you have any questions please post here today and I will respond as soon as I see it; if you have no further questions kindly rate 3, 4 or preferably 5 stars. Thank you for using Just Answer!