Owning Land

Absentee Rural Land Ownership

Do you have an Absentee Rural Land Owner Sign on your property? Now I would guess the answer to that is a resounding NO. As it should be… because there is no need to announce to the world that you don’t live anywhere near your land. However, consider that your property may be doing all the talking of that sign anyway.

Absentee Rural Land Ownership is fairly common and many people own land that is fairly far away from their primary residence. It may be difficult for you to monitor the property effectively from a distance so how can you protect your investment?

Steps to Take to Protect your Land

  • Schedule Visits
  • Photograph the Property
  • Record all Activity & Expenses
  • Maintain a written Land Management Plan
  • Post No Hunting or No Trespassing Signs

Land that is not regularly maintained can invite damage, misuse, trespassers, hunters, loggers, overgrazing, plant diseases and many other undesirable scenarios. Land can certainly take a beating and still recover but there is a limit before restoration becomes nearly impossible.

If you notice that your land has been trespassed on such as finding shotgun shells or open gates or trash then contact law enforcement immediately so they can log the incident. If you are unable to physically visit the land at least 4-6 times a year then consider hiring someone to help you monitor the land. Land agents may offer property management and leasing services along with real estate services and for a small fee (usually just enough to cover the travel costs to the property) you can have someone check on your property and send you photos so you can you keep tabs on your property.

If you do allow people on your land for hunting or fishing or other reasons then make sure that you provide a written permission document to them. That way if they are stopped while they are on the land they can show a Sheriff or officer the document as proof they are allowed to be on your land. Another good precaution is to keep up on the local news in the area of your land. Arson has destroyed hay, pasture and rangeland and abandoned buildings in rural areas and you should know if this is happening in your area so you can keep a lookout and be sure to notify neighbors that nobody should be on your land.

Poaching can sometimes turn into a serious problem because hunters will notice that the property is not being used and may trespass to hunt on your land thinking nobody will ever know. If this is a serious concern for you then consider investing in a trail or wildlife camera to install on your property. Even if you decide not to prosecute which happens more often than not in local situations if it turns out to be high school kids or the local hunter that just needs a warning at least you have proof for law enforcement so they can follow up with the appropriate individuals.

If you are going to be an absentee landowner then protect yourself and your investment by making regular visits to the property and keep up on local news in the area.

This content may not be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever, in part or in whole, without written permission of LANDTHINK. Use of this content without permission is a violation of federal copyright law. The articles, posts, comments, opinions and information provided by LANDTHINK are for informational and research purposes only and DOES NOT substitute or coincide with the advice of an attorney, accountant, real estate broker or any other licensed real estate professional. LANDTHINK strongly advises visitors and readers to seek their own professional guidance and advice related to buying, investing in or selling real estate.

About the author


LANDTHINK is part of the LANDFLIP network of sites and brings together the various components of the land industry and provides knowledge and information to land investors, owners and professionals to create a stronger land marketplace. Get land smart!


Click here to post a comment

  • Marisa this is great information for landowners in this situation. One thing Dave Milton, owner of AlaLandCo, does on his out of town properties is allow the local game warden to hunt the property free of charge. Word gets out who is hunting there, and he never has issues with trespassers.

  • I have completed consulting inspections on large tracts of land around the US. One area that I see a big problem is landowners not policing their boundaries. They allow neighboring farmers or rural residents to use or access small portions of of their land for their purposes without any written agreements. Then lands changes hands, either yours or the neighbors, and you find there is an adverse possession claim against you. The old or new owner claims land they have used because they used it adversely for over 10 years with no one notifying them that they were trespassing. They then have a legal right to take the property.

  • Does this information concerning right of way and land use for 7 or more years equal ownership or continuing right of way apply to homes and mutually used driveways? Thank you.

  • In Nebraska and I know some other states adverse possession can transfer property if there is continuous open and visible use without any interruption for more than 10 years. This can apply to allowing joint usage of a driveway or farming/ranching use of acres without any lease or legal permission.

    I was involved with a case where a neighbor tried to claim a set of corrals that he maintained that he had been allowed to use once or twice a year without interruption for more than 10 years. He didn’t win but it cost a significant amount of legal fees to fight. This situation came up when the land was sold and the neighbor was trying to cause problems for the new owner.

    Key advice for Sellers is to never sign a Warrantee Deed to transfer property where the Seller does not absolutely know that boundaries were policed and there could be potential for adverse possession claims. Otherwise the Seller could have to fight on behalf of his buyer to protect what he warranteed in the deed. Transfer by Quit Claim Deed or be specific about what your Seller is guaranteeing by the deed transfer. This comes up a lot in recreational property in wilderness or treed areas.

Pulse Question

Should game wardens have the right to search and surveil private property without a warrant?


Subscribe to LANDTHINK

Get the latest land articles and news sent to your inbox. Get land smart!