Question From A Timberland Owner

By Tom Brickman on May 23, 2012


I have 100 ac of timberland. My problem is that it is landlocked. I have been using an old logging road for years to go to the property but do not have an easement on my deed to go to it. I would like to sell the property or do a land swap etc. Do you have any ideas on how I can get rid of it?



Your problem is a common one in Alabama.

Most buyers today are first-time buyers and don’t understand “how it is” out in the country. You know, everyone uses the roads as needed and neighbors understand that if you want to have a good neighbor, then you have to be a good neighbor.

But, when a first time buyer finds out that a property does not have a written, deeded access, all they can picture is showing up one day and finding that the road has been gated shut by a hostile neighbor. And no matter how many times you explain that the law in Alabama says you can’t “land-lock” your neighbor, and that the road has been used for years with no problems, the next words out of their mouth is always, “well, what else do you have for sale”.

In my experience you have four options:

1. Go to the neighbor and try to negotiate a written easement. In a perfect world you would get a “written right of ingress and egress with utilities”, wide enough to meet county specifications for public maintenance should it ever be desired. It may cost you some money, but it is well worth it. You might end up with a narrow easement and no utilities, but even that is better than what you have now.

2. Buy out as many neighbors as it takes to get to a publicly maintained road.

3. Go to a neighbor and see if they want to buy your Alabama timberland. Of all potential buyers, an adjoining landowner will always see the value most clearly, even if they can’t or don’t want to buy it.

4. Drop the price so much that someone will buy it (or swap) on principle. To hold for the future. Or, to buy so cheaply they can now afford to tackle the problem of lack of access.

Good luck.

Tom Brickman

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