Point of Beginning

Who has rights in a Subdivision right-of-way?

October 8, 2009

Posted By Philip Reed on 10/8/2009 at 8:24 AM

Owner subdivides lake front property into 22 lots and immediately sells all the lots that same year except for one. Each lot has lake frontage. The deeds refer exclusively to a lot number on a plan (Book 150, map 32) and nothing else.

Two years later, the back lots are subdivided by the same subdivider. He depicts the existing front lots along with the new back lots and turns the one remaining lake front lot into a "right-of-way" to the lake. All the back lots refer to the later subdivision plan (Book 160, plan 100).

There are no other documents anywhere clarifying the subdivider’s intentions. The answer may be State specific, but my opinion is that the front lots do not have any rights to use the right-of-way because their deed doesn’t specifically convey them any rights to it. The rear lot owners do have rights to the right-of-way because their deeds specifically refer to the right-of-way vis a vis the subdivision plan.

The principle being that to have rights in a right-of-way you have to have a call in your deed for it, unwritten rights aside of course. The mere fact that the Book 160, map 100 plan also depicts the prior subdivision in Book 150, page 32 is not sufficient to grant the Lake front lot owners any rights to the right-of-way.

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