There are several ways in which road easements can come to be. Streets can be dedicated on a plat. They can be granted through a deed or an easement agreement to a city, county, or state. But there’s one other way that road easements come into existence – public dedication through use.
Public Dedication Through Use
Minnesota has a statute that indicates that if a road has been used for six years continuously by a public entity (a city or a county), then the road is considered to be public.
When we’re insuring title, we need to know that we’re insuring title to a piece of land that abuts a public right-of-way that’s open. We need to know that the land has legal access to a public right-of-way because that’s a clause in our Title Insurance jackets (it’s often a provision that’s automatically insured).
We often get requests to insure access from a piece of land to a particular roadway and sometimes via a particular area or easement. Then we need to also make sure that that road is open. Public entities haven’t been great about recording how they acquired a public right-of-way. As a result, we may not be able to find a condemnation or a deed from an individual to that public entity to create that road. But if that road has been used for six years then it makes us much more comfortable insuring legal access to the road.