Suppose you own a piece of land. Suppose your only access to it is a driveway easement across your neighbor’s land. Suppose the easement says you get “free and unencumbered access” to use the driveway. Now suppose your neighbor puts an unlocked gate across it. Most people would think that violates the easement. But not in Florida.
A recent Florida appellate court stated the general rule in Florida to be that an easement to access land does not necessarily prohibit installation of a gate. It went on to say that the words “free and unencumbered access” in the easement did not mean that gates were prohibited.
The key missing word in the easement is “open”. If the word “open” was in the easement, the court might have held otherwise.
So if you want your driveway easement not to have gates, it’s best to specify in the easement that it will be “free and unencumbered and open and without gates”.
Of course, every case is different, depending on the facts and the law of the location of the land.
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