What Are Prescriptive Rights to Property?

Prescriptive property rights are interests in real property known as implied easements. These are rights to use another person’s property, such as for ingress or egress, acquired by longtime use, without permission, in a continuous manner for a statutory period of time, explains Nolo’s Law Dictionary.

The law regarding prescriptive easements is akin to the law of adverse possession, but unlike adverse possession, a prescriptive easement does not require exclusivity. Real property law, including the law of easements, is based on common-law principles.

The applicable law depends on the jurisdiction, but several specific elements must generally be established in order to claim an easement by prescription. The individual’s use must be open and notorious (obvious to anyone), actual, continuous (uninterrupted for the required length of time) and hostile (without permission from the property owner) for the duration specified by the applicable jurisdiction, according to Justia.

Before an easement by prescription becomes binding, it carries no legal weight and can be terminated if the property owner takes the required steps to defend his ownership rights, such as granting permission for the easement holder to use the property so that use is no longer hostile. Once it’s legally binding, however, an easement by prescription has the same force and effect as a written or implied easement, notes Wikipedia.