Wisconsin REALTORS Association: Applauds passage and signing of Act 174 legislation preserving private easements

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin REALTORS® Association today applauded the passage and signing into law of Act 174, bipartisan legislation that will protect the freedom to contract and preserve private easements. The legislation was authored by Sen. André Jacque (R-SD1) and Rep. David Murphy (R-AD56), and signed into law by Gov. Tony Evers.

“We thank Gov. Evers and bill authors Sen. Jacque and Rep. Murphy for clarifying existing language in state statute and protecting the freedom to contract in Wisconsin,” said Wisconsin REALTORS® Association Executive Vice President Tom Larson. “Prior to today, if an access easement wasn’t re-recorded within 40 years, the easement was extinguished and unenforceable, even if the original agreement provides it goes forever — this law fixed that disparity.”

Access easements are commonly executed on commercial, residential and agricultural parcels to provide access to landlocked parcels, hunting land and waterways.

The new law allows recorded private access easement agreements recorded on or after January 1, 1960, to run in perpetuity, while also allowing access easements recorded before that date to run in perpetuity if certain events occur, such as a re-recording or proof of physical evidence. The law does not impact any litigation resolved as of the bill’s effective date.

Currently, 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. Today’s action clarifies that if the parties did not include a termination time frame in the access easement, then the easement continues in perpetuity.