In real estate and property law, "egress" refers to a person’s right to leave property. This is usually partnered with other terms such as "ingress" (the right to enter property), and "regress" (the right to return to property). Under many state, federal, and local laws, homeowners, lessees, and tenants generally have broad rights to ingress and egress in a property that they hold interests in. These are connected with other concepts, such as safety and zoning laws, as well as the general right of a landowner to make use of their land and property.

When Does Ingress and Egress Become an Issue?

Ingress and egress often become an issue where a homeowner or a rightful resident on the property have their access to the property blocked. For instance, a building, structure, or even a car can sometimes block ingress and egress rights. This can become a safety issue, and permanent blockages of egress/ingress points can depreciate the value of a home or property.

Ingress and egress can sometimes be a major issue when it comes to accessing natural resources or other materials that are found on or near the property. For instance, if a plot of land has natural access to a stream or river, blocking that access point might make the home less valuable. This can be a factor during a home sale or purchase transaction.

Lastly, ingress and egress issues can arise when it comes to boundary disputes. For instance, if one neighbor’s fence is encroaching on the other neighbor’s property, it might lead to a legal dispute over ingress/egress.

Regress often becomes a legal dispute in cases where a person loses title or is evicted from the land. In such cases, they may lose rights to regress (i.e. to return to the land).

What If I Have a Property Dispute over Egress Rights?

Every property owner (and persons legally entitled to be on the land) have extensive rights when it comes to entering and leaving the land. They should also be able to transport necessary items to and from the property without dispute. In the event of a contest over egress rights, a lawsuit may be necessary to resolve the dispute.

In many cases, the court might order an injunction. This might allow the property owner rights to have a path opened up or a similar access point to their property. Or, the court might order a structure to be removed, demolished, or altered so that it’s no longer blocking ingress/egress points. In some cases, an easement by necessity may be granted. This is where the court allows the property owner to cross or access another person’s property in order to enter and leave their own property. This is usually a sidewalk or some sort of pathway that crosses through a neighbor’s land.

Lastly, in the event that an injunction is not possible or would be too costly, the court might issue a damages award to compensate the property owner for losses caused by the egress violation.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with an Egress Issue?

Access to land is very important, as it could affect many other rights as well. You may wish to hire a qualified real estate lawyer in your area if you have any questions or concerns regarding ingress or egress. Your attorney can provide you with legal advice for your claim, and can help you file a case with the court if needed. If you need to appear in court, your lawyer can represent you during hearings and meetings before a judge.