can you put a dock on deeded lake access, Can You Build a Dock on Deeded Lake Access?

Can You Build a Dock on Deeded Lake Access?

Picture this: you’ve just purchased your dream property with deeded lake access and a gorgeous lake view. You’re already daydreaming about lazy summer days spent fishing and boating on the water. But can you put a dock on deeded lake access? Is it even legal?

It’s important to understand your rights and restrictions regarding deeded lake access. It’s not always as simple as plopping a dock wherever you please. There are permits, zoning regulations, and neighborly considerations to navigate.

Read on to ensure your dream of lakeside living becomes a reality.


What is Deeded Lake Access?

If you’re considering buying a lakefront property, you’ve likely come across the term “deeded lake access.” But what does it really mean?

In simple terms, deeded lake access refers to a legal agreement that grants a property owner the right to use a specific portion of the lake, even though they don’t own the land directly adjacent to the water. This access is typically granted through a deed or other legal document.

“Row” stands for “right-of-way” to the lake. It lets you pass through someone else’s land to reach the water. And a “deeded dock” means you own the dock space, kind of like having a parking spot for your boat.

One of the major perks of deeded access is that it can significantly increase the value of a property. Buyers are often willing to pay a premium for guaranteed lake access, even without direct shoreline ownership. It’s a great option if you want to enjoy all the benefits of lakeside living without the cost and maintenance of actual waterfront property.


Types of Deeded Lake Access

The specifics of deeded access can vary widely depending on local laws and the language used in the property deed. In some cases, you might have broad access to a private beach or dock. Other times, it could be more limited, like a designated path or easement to reach the shore.


Limitations of Deeded Lake Access

Deeded access does come with some limitations. Since you don’t own the land extending to the water, building a dock or making changes to the shoreline may be tricky. Specific activities like boating, fishing, or even swimming might also be restricted depending on the terms of your access. Always carefully review the details to know exactly what you can and can’t do.


Determining Your Rights with Deeded Lake Access

So you’ve fallen in love with a property with deeded lake access. Exciting. But before you dive in, note that it’s crucial to fully understand your rights and responsibilities.

  1. Carefully review the legal description of your access in the property deed. This document should spell out exactly where your access is located and what you’re allowed to do with specific language. If anything is unclear, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. You don’t want any surprises down the line.
  2. Consult with a real estate lawyer who specializes in estate law. They can help you interpret the legalese and ensure you fully understand your rights. I’ve worked with real estate attorneys on several occasions, and their expertise is invaluable. Investing in professional guidance upfront is better than facing legal battles later.
  3. Familiarize yourself with local zoning regulations. These rules can impact what you’re allowed to do with your lake access. For example, some areas have strict guidelines for what they permit with dock construction or shoreline modifications. It’s crucial to understand and abide by these regulations to avoid potential fines or legal issues.
  4. If your property is part of a homeowners association (HOA), there may be additional rules governing lake access. These could include designated usage hours, guest policies, or even restrictions on certain watercraft. Make sure to carefully review your HOA bylaws and attend meetings to stay informed. Building positive relationships with your neighbors and the HOA board can go a long way in ensuring a smooth lake living experience.

Ideally, you would have a deed with legally binding permission to build a boat dock on the shoreline.


Building a Dock on Deeded Lake Access Property

Are you allowed to build a dock? The answer? It depends.


Considerations For Building a Dock

First and foremost, you’ll need to refer back to your property deed. Does it explicitly grant you the legal right to construct a dock? If not, you’ll likely face an uphill battle. Even if your deed does allow for a dock, there are other factors. Local zoning laws and HOA regulations may prohibit or limit dock construction. And if you share your access with other property owners, you’ll need their permission as well.


Obtaining Necessary Permits and Approvals

If you’ve determined that a dock is allowed, your next step is to secure the necessary permits and approvals. This typically involves submitting plans to your local building department and possibly your state’s Department of Natural Resources. The permitting process can be complex, so it’s often helpful to work with a professional dock builder familiar with your area’s requirements.


Designing and Constructing Your Dock

With permits in hand, it’s time to start designing your dream dock. Assess water depth, shoreline terrain, and expected usage when determining the size, style, and materials.

If you’re not experienced in dock construction, the professionals at Decks & Docks have seasoned experience designing docks that serve both function and beauty. 


Dock Maintenance

Finally, don’t forget that owning a dock is an ongoing responsibility. Regular maintenance is essential to keep it safe and functional for years to come. This includes tasks like cleaning, staining, and repairing any damage. It’s also important to have your dock inspected periodically to catch any potential issues before they become major problems.

Building a dock can be a great way to maximize your enjoyment of your deeded lake access, but it’s not a decision to be made lightly. Careful research and planning are key to ensuring a successful outcome.


Resolving Disputes Over Deeded Lake Access

Disputes over deeded access are one of the most common legal matters that come up for lake communities. Here’s a common scenario: your neighbor claims that your access rights are limited or invalid. Suddenly, your slice of paradise is clouded by conflict. These disputes often arise from unclear language in property deeds or a misunderstanding of the specific rights granted. In some cases, a neighbor may even try to block your access path or restrict your usage of the shoreline.


Open a Friendly Dialogue with Your Neighbor

More often than not, these issues stem from a simple lack of communication or clarity. Approach the conversation with a cool head and an open mind. Share your understanding of your deeded rights, and listen to their perspective. The goal is to find a mutually agreeable solution that allows everyone to enjoy the lake harmoniously.


Bring in a Skilled Real Estate Attorney Specializing in Lakefront Property Matters

If your attempts at communication hit a wall, a legal expert can review your property deed, assess the specific nature and language of your access rights, and advise you on the best course of action. They’ll help you understand the nitty-gritty details of your deeded access and represent your interests if the dispute escalates.


Consider Mediation or Arbitration 

These approaches involve a neutral third party helping you and your neighbor find a fair compromise without the stress and expense of a trial. They often lead to a quicker resolution and a more amicable long-term relationship with your lake community.


Benefits of Deeded Lake Access

Now, let’s focus on the fun part: making the most of your deeded lake access!


Recreational Activities on the Lake

One of the greatest joys of having deeded access is the ability to partake in all sorts of lakefront adventures. Whether you’re an avid angler, a water sports enthusiast, or just love lounging on a floatie, the lake is your oyster. Spend your days casting a line for trophy fish, exploring hidden lakes and coves by kayak, or teaching your kids to water ski. With deeded access, you have the freedom to create lasting memories on the water whenever the mood strikes.


Lakefront Property Enhancements

Just because you don’t own the shoreline doesn’t mean you can’t create your own slice of lakefront paradise. In addition to your dock, invest in landscaping that maximizes your lake views, add a cozy fire pit for evening s’mores sessions, or build a stunning deck where you can sip your morning coffee and watch the sunrise over the water. With a little creativity and TLC, you can transform your deeded access property into a true lake lover’s haven.


Renting Out Your Property

If you’re not using your lake house year-round, why not share the joy (and offset some of your ownership costs) by renting it out to fellow lake enthusiasts? Deeded access properties are often highly sought-after by vacationers looking for a taste of the lake life. By offering your home as a short-term rental, you can introduce others to the wonders of your lakefront community while generating some extra income. Just be sure to check with any HOA you might be a part of and local regulations first to ensure that rentals are permitted and to understand any guidelines you need to follow.


Connecting with the Lakefront Community

Perhaps the greatest perk of deeded lake access is the opportunity to be part of a vibrant community of fellow lake lovers. Attend local events, join a boating club, or simply strike up a conversation with your neighbors at the community dock. 

Building solid relationships with your lakefront peers not only enhances your overall experience but also creates a support system for navigating any challenges that may arise. After all, a tight-knit lake community is a force to be reckoned with.


Shop Decks & Docks To Design and Build Your Lakefront Dock

Now that you’ve confirmed your legally deeded lake access for your lakefront property, turn it into your own little slice of paradise! Build that dock so you can enjoy that property to the max.

Decks & Docks provides quality deck and dock supplies all across the U.S., with locations located along the Atlantic coast, as well as domestic and international shipping. Get the supplies you need whenever and wherever you want them! Our expertise in all things decks, docks, and seawalls lets us deliver exactly what you need to achieve the results you’re looking for.

Give us a call or find the nearest location today so you can get started on your lakefront dock tomorrow.