Addressing the 40-year Easement Expiration


2022 Wisconsin Act 174

Most property owners had no idea their joint driveway access, or the ability to cross over another’s land to gain access to the private pier, or ability to use another’s land to allow access for their farm equipment, or ability to access a business parking lot by utilizing the road of another, had an expiration date on them.

Prior to 2022 Wis. Act 174, Wisconsin law provided that if an access easement wasn’t re-recorded at the register of deeds within the 40 years, the easement was extinguished and unenforceable, even if the original easement agreement provides it goes forever.

2022 Wis. Act 174, signed by Governor Evers on March 11, 22, allows recorded private access easements agreements recorded on or after January 1, 1960, to run in perpetuity and allows access easements recoded before January 1, 1960 to run in perpetuity if certain events occur, such as a re-recording or proof of physical evidence. Access easements are commonly executed on commercial, residential, and agricultural parcels to provide access to landlock parcels (e.g., joint driveway), parking lots, hunting land, water, and farm equipment.

Holding the Line on Property Taxes

2022 Wis. Act 174 protects the freedom to contract. It is against public policy to have a law automatically terminate a previously negotiated contract between two parties simply because the agreement was not re-recorded after 40 years. The presumption should be if the parties did not include a termination time frame in the access easement, then the easement continues in perpetuity.

Wisconsin property owners are better served with a simple exception from the statute, as is enjoyed by conservation easements, utilities and railroads easements, and interests of state and local governments.

The Wisconsin REALTORS®  Association supported action by the state legislature in 2022 to amend Wis. Stat. § 893.33 to eliminate the statute of limitations for access easements. Like other contracts, critical real estate access easements establishing ingress and egress to property owners’ land would be honored as written and would not require re-recording after 40 years to remain in effect as intended.


Wisconsin’s New Access Easement Law

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Ep. 34

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