Can I put a gate at the entrance of an easement?
Question Details: I have a dirt road running through my propery, a farmer has been using it for several years to access the land behind ours. We never granted permission but haven't stopped him from using it. I would like to put a gate accross the entrance so my kids can ride their bikes on our dirt road without the worry of farm equipment hitting them. Can I put up a gate? Does it have to always be unlocked or can it be locked if I give the farmer a key? They have threatened to take me to court to make it an easement, so I would like to know if there can be a gate in the case that it was an easement.
First, there is no easement as yet, so at present, you can bar them from using the road. Until and unelss there is an easement, they have no right to access your property, even if, as a courtesy, you have let them do so before.
Second, if they would get an easement if they went to court for one, it would not be worth fully blocking it (see below), because after going through the cost and effort of litigation, he'll get his easement.
But the issue is: would he win if he sought an easement? The issue there is, is his property "landlocked" so that he has to go through yours to get to it--or does he have some other potential access, in that some piece of his property touches a public road, and he has simply been using your road because it is convenient for him? There is no easement for convenience, not if someone can get out to a public road some other way, so if he has some other potential access to his property, he does not have a right to an easement and you can bar him from your property (e.g. put up a locked gate and call the police on him for trespassing if he enters anyway). Only if his property is landlocked and he must go over your land would he be granted an easement.
3) Even he would be or is granted an easement, you can put up a gate to block out other people who don't have an easement, so long as the person (this farmer) with an easement can get through, such as by giving him keys to a lock or putting up a gate with touchpad access and giving him the code.