Ingress and Egress right of way

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Ingress and Egress right of way

Does an existing easement for egress and ingress allow the grantee to cut down
trees in the adjoining ditch? Is there a minimum private road width this is more
of a private drive to a property within NC law? We have a private black top road
10′ width and there is nothing in our deed or the grantee’s deed specifying any
right of way ‘road width’. If the trees do not block or hinder his access, does
he still have the right to cut them down? He says he has the right to cut down
trees up to 5 feet away on either side of this private road.

Asked on November 12, 2017 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, he does not have the right to do this. An easement for ingress and egress is exactly--and just--that: the right to transit the easement to go in and out. It confers no rights other than the right to travel across or over the easement, and in particular confers no rights to modify the property, such as by cutting trees. All he can do is go in and out over the easement, nothing more; if a tree is blocking it, he could potentially cut the parts (e.g. the branches) blocking access (though the better course would be for him to seek a court order requiring the property owner to open up access), but that's the most he can do; he has no right to cut trees no impeding access over or use of the easement.

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