Buying a property with questionable (no) access?

4 Replies

I was inquiring about a property and the listing agent told me of another one she has for sale that's currently off-market. It's in a very good area of the city (Miami) and I'm confident it can generate a solid return based on the asking price, however there's just one catch (There always is!) -

The property is located behind another property. There are basically two homes (One in front of the other) on a rectangular shaped piece of land. They are on two separate folio's, owned by two different families, and each pay separate property taxes. 

So you have the road, and then a home with a drive-way. And behind that one is the home for sale. As of right now it looks like there is a "side driveway" leading to the back home. But I think that technically the "side driveway" is owned by the owner of the first home as it passed through their land. 

I'm wondering if this could present problems if say the owner of the "front house" is not friendly towards the new owner (potentially myself) or if the front house is sold at some point and again the new owners want to cut off access.

I wonder if they can legally cut off access or would they be required by law to provide access?

Too bad I'm not wealthy enough to offer helicopter service to tenants :P

Any help, advice or experience with such a situation would be appreciated. I have a lawyer, but this is not the type of question he specializes in. Working to find someone who can but figured I would ask here in the meanwhile.

You should be sure there is a legal, recorded easement for access to the rear property.   If so, then the owners of the front property cannot (legally) block access.

If there is not an easement then adverse possession may come into play.  IDK FL laws on this, but its possible if the side driveway has been in use long enough that it could be claimed by the rear property.

@Chris Krinslow - Not too difficult to understand with the right information. You need to see the title commitment or legal addresses to understand if there is a recorded easement for access. If there is not - then probably best to pass on the deal in a hot market people will overlook the nuances of the situation, in a slow market, it will kill your value. Unless this type of set up and arrangement is very common in the area. I am curious if you accounted for the front back house style on your valuation of the property?

@Jon Holdman

@Travis Sperr

Thank you both very much for the replies! It will help me a great deal in phrasing things properly when I ask questions. 

It's definitely an uncommon situation for the area/city. I spend a few hours on the property appraiser website each day and I believe it's the first time I have seen this. 

Haven't accounted for the style on my valuation. That's an excellent point. I got caught up in the return, potential and location, but you are right - it could (And will likely) harm the value a good amount when looking to re-sell. Beyond the easement concern, that's something I will have to figure out when I see it in person - the area where the two property lines meet and how that may appear to a future buyer.

In all likelihood there is an easement for ingress/egress recorded among the land records already (and again, in all likelihood it runs with the land from owner to owner), but you could always include it as a requirement in your offer. 

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