Your own land, and how to get to it
Not every plot comes with its own access to a public road. In many cases, access is only possible by crossing—and thus using—someone else’s property.
Where the agreement in place is clear and simple, this isn’t an issue. But where it isn’t, things might become difficult very quickly.
Be careful to find out about access first. If you are about to buy a plot, access issues might not be immediately obvious—which means that the first step is to always ask the estate agent or previous owner what arrangements there are, and how binding they are. Check the land register for an established servitude in favour of the person who is selling the plot. This would mean that access to a public road is established. If there is a fee for using a neighbour’s plot, you might want to know the size of the fee.
If there is no deal or servitude, and the parties are not able to reach a notarial agreement (which is legally the safest option), or worse if a neighbour blocks the access road, the matter is often taken to the courts, which decide on applications about road and utility access by looking at certain conditions.
These are the factors that are weighed in order to decide across which other plot access is possible:
- For the court to decide in favour of establishing an access road or utility connection, there can’t be any other existing access to the plot. In other words, the court likely won’t see e.g. a road necessary if a second one already exists.
- Building the infrastructure needed has to be done within the land use planning (maakorraldus) that is already in place.
- The interest of the party demanding the access needs to outweigh the cost and other limitations incurred for the owner, or owners, of the affected neighbouring properties. When considering these interests, the courts have often referred to the earlier use of roads, although it should be emphasised that this isn’t the only factor that the court will look into.
- Beyond costs and infringement on the property rights of other landowners, the courts also assess a situation based on the expected purposeful use of the access to be built. In short, if you aren’t planning to actually use e.g. an access road as just that, you might not get it.
All of this means that the courts will weigh these different points one against the other.
The eventual decision doesn’t need to favor the shortest, cheapest, or most convenient solution. This means that the access eventually built might not actually lead to the closest public road or utility line.
In their decisions, the courts try to opt for the solution that eventually comes with the least cost and infringement on other plot owners’ rights.
If you are using a private road today without
any problems, and without having an agreement, it may still eventually cause
problems when selling the property. Which means that it makes a lot of sense to
address access issues early, as they are the key to legal stability in any
If you have any questions about this subject, or if you don’t know where to look, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Kätlin Ots, attorney at law at Glikman Alvin LEVIN. You can reach Kätlin at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling +372 686 0000.