Not every parcel of Michigan land available to private citizens comes with access to a public road. In fact, some are surrounded by private or public property. 

When someone wishes to purchase and develop that land, it may be necessary to obtain an easement. 

What is an easement? 

As The Institute of Continuing Legal Education explains, an easement does not grant ownership of any portion of land; it only allows certain usage. Placing an access road across someone else’s land is an easement appurtenant because it serves one landowner by burdening another. 

How is an easement created? 

Creating an easement is a legal process. It requires documentation in writing that demonstrates a clear intention of subjecting the property to the easement. There is no such thing in Michigan as an easement created through an oral agreement. 

The written instrument may be an express grant. This document is similar to the property deed, and it must be recorded in order to protect both property owners. 

A property owner may include an easement when selling one portion of his or her property to someone else to benefit the portion of the property he or she retains. This is an express reservation, which the property owner may include in the deed to the property being sold. 

Can an easement cross public land? 

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources notes that it is possible to acquire a private easement on state land. However, this is not a simple process. The department must consider all the competing interests, such as weighing any effects the easement may have on the public’s interest in the state land. The state encourages property owners to seek other means of private access before beginning the process of requesting this type of easement.