The Only Way to Reach My Property

In a case in which it was difficult to determine the entire history of a particular tract of property, the New Mexico Court of Appeals found that the plaintiffs, the Los Vigiles Land Grant and Mike Martinez, had the right to use an adjoining parcel of property to access and depart their own property. The Court determined that the plaintiffs successfully made the case that they had an easement by necessity, and that absent a ruling they would not be able to access their property unless they used the only available road available to do so. The problem was that this road ran exclusively through the Rebar Haygood Ranch, the private property of the Defendants.


The court in Los Vigiles Land Grant v. Rebar Haygood Ranch, et. al. determined that in 1860 certain land had been set aside as part of a land grant; then in 1951, the land was divided up and conveyed into parcels. Since then, the people who sought to reach the Los Vigiles Land Grant portion used a road called the “Sebastian Canyon Road” to reach their property. This road, situated on the defendants’ property, was the only way to reach their land. In 2010, the plaintiffs sued after the owners of the Rebar Haygood Ranch put up an impassable gate denying access on the road.


The trial court decided and the Court of Appeals affirmed the following:


Easements by necessity arise from an implied grant or reservation of right of ingress and egress to a landlocked parcel. In order to uphold an easement by necessity[,] a court must find a conveyance of a portion of the grantor’s land that, after the severance of the two parcels, creates a necessity to pass over one of them to reach any road or public street.

An easement by necessity requires:

(1) unity of title, indicating that the dominant and servient estates were owned as a single unit prior to the separation of such tracts[]; (2) that the dominant estate has been severed from the servient tract, thereby curtailing access of the owner of the dominant estate to and from a public roadway; and (3) that a reasonable necessity existed for such right of way at the time the dominant parcel was severed from the servient tract.


As the plaintiffs owned the dominant estate, the owners of that estate had the right to use that estate to reach their property even though it was not landlocked. It did find, however, that there were no other reasonable routes to the property because of the peculiarities of the surrounding terrain.


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