Easement by necessity available if the difficulty or expense of using a legally available route renders the land unfit for its reasonably anticipated use

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted an owner an easement by necessity even though the land contained a small strip connecting the land to a public way. Bartkowski v. Ramondo, 219 A.3d 1083 (Pa. 2019) (applying the Private Roads Act, 36 Pa. Stat. §§2731-2891. It did so on the ground that access need not be strictly necessary to get to the land for an easement by necessity to exist. All the owner need show is that access is not available that would allow ordinary uses of the property if the easement by necessity is not recognized. In this case, While mere inconvenience is not enough to show necessity, neither must the land be completely landlocked to take advantage of the doctrine of easement by necessity. “The central inquiry is whether, absent the recognition of an easement, the … dominant estate will be left without a means of ingress and egress, rendering the property inaccessible and thus, unusable.” In this case, the parcel was a “flag lot” with a main area and small tag or strip connecting the property to a public street. But changes in elevation made it impossible to use the strip for driveway purposes.


An opinion that was both a concurrence and a dissent objected that an easement by necessity should not be granted merely because access is “manifestly impracticable.” Those justices would have preferred a test based on “strict necessity.”