Sun | Dec 4, 2016

A MATTER OF LAND - Help, I'm landlocked!

Published:Sunday | September 21, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Craig Francis, Contributor

This week, I want to examine a practice that is becoming very common, mainly in the rural areas. I have been having to be mediator, adjudicator and counsellor (which is normal for many of my colleagues and I) between landholders when either is 'landlocked'.

Being landlocked simply means that your property is surrounded by other properties and you have no clear or reserved access to your property. More simply put is that you have no road, track, walkway or pass to your property and to get to your property you have to walk through someone else's property.

Properties become landlocked oftentimes because of unorganised unplanned and unregulated subdivisions. Normally, this occurs when a person has a property and they dispose of sections of the property piece by piece but not in a planned way or with the aid of any attorney-at-law or commissioned land surveyor.

This lack of planning and design sometimes result in the front section of the property being sold off and the back section left unsold, and it becomes landlocked without any means of access because the parcels were sold from the property at the front with no provision made for access to the parcel at the back.

Legal right of way

A property that is landlocked land will not be able to receive an approved survey diagram or certificate of title. This means that all property owners must have a means of access to their property other than using a helicopter. There must be some means of ground access to the property. This doesn't mean someone allowing you to just use their property as access unless it's a legal right of way. If it's not, then when everyone around the property fences their boundaries you will have no way of accessing your property.

So to ensure that you don't landlock your property, it's best if you plan to dispose of portions of your property to get your commissioned land surveyor to prepare a subdivision proposal for you. Or in any case, ensure that when you are going to sell any part of your property you engage the services of your land surveyor, who will guide you and ensure that you have an access to your property.

If you find that you are now landlocked there are means of correcting this situation. It will require you to dialogue with your neighbours to see if you can secure access through their property, either by means of a reserved road or a right of way. This may require you paying the owner of the property for the strip of land that will be required to give you the access you need.

If you still face a challenge with getting the access you need, then you may need to speak to your lawyer and the matter be brought before a magistrate in court.

So whenever you have a property and you want to dispose of portions of it, be cognisant that each parcel must have access and consult your land surveyor, he will give you professional guidance and advice.

Keep sending your questions and comments and let's continue to explore A Matter of Land. Until next time, traverse well.

Craig Francis is a commissioned land surveyor and managing director of Precision Surveying Services Ltd. He can be contacted for questions or queries at craig_r_francis@yahoo.com or his Facebook page Precision Surveying Services.