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It's possible to prevent prescriptive easements
Jennifer Sterba

A prescriptive easement allows an individual to claim the right to use a portion of land if that person can prove he or she has been using that land continuously for a minimum of 10 years.

It's the right to use another person's property for a "defined purpose," said Lewis Schorr, a real estate attorney with Lewis and Roca in Tucson.

The typical way to stop a prescriptive easement from being granted is to block or prevent the use. Schorr said he's heard of some instances when a neighbor might put a chain across a path for one or two days a year to effectively "interrupt" the continuous use.

In a worst-case scenario, he said, a resident could go to court and request an injunction to keep someone off his or her property.

Another way to prevent a prescriptive easement is to be "neighborly." Grant the neighbor permission to use the property. In order to qualify for a prescriptive easement, the land use has to be adverse in nature. The land must be used without the owner's permission.

If that neighbor had permission in writing, the property owner could enforce constraints such as type of use, liability of damage, specific times or dates of use, and even a monetary compensation for the use.

In the Mercer-Hamilton case, the Hamiltons had requested permission in writing from the Mercers. Genevieve became suspicious and contacted a seniors hot-line, which advised her not to put permission in writing. 
Hence, the use became adverse.