I live on a residential access road off of USDA property. Multiple times a week for the last 5 years, I have taken a walk down my road and on to the USDA property, walking on the main roads around the complex. Yesterday I was stopped by a security guard for the first time and told that I could not walk on “federal government property” and I must turn around.

There is a single sign posted that says “US Government Property: No Trespassing Off Main Roads”. My question is, is this trespassing? I am walking on the main roads of the complex. There are sidewalks that lead all the way out to the public road out front. And I HAVE to cross into the USDA property to get to my house.

Other than the USDA property, the rest of the immediate area is commercial property without very good sidewalks so I would have to get in my car and go somewhere else in order to get a quick mile or two walk in.

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    When dealing with the executive branch of the US federal government, it is often effective to write to one's representative in Congress. Apr 15, 2023 at 0:48
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    You should talk with the facility director. The security guard likely works for the lowest bidder contractor.
    – user71659
    Apr 15, 2023 at 1:10
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    Ordinarily, a property owner cannot "landlock" you by denying you access to your property, but it is true that government operations are not "ordinary". The director would be the one to call the cops, so you can probably continue as normal until the guards gets corrected.
    – user6726
    Apr 15, 2023 at 1:12
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    If you own the home and hope to be able to sell it some day, you may wish to hire a land surveyor to research, among other things, what land you can walk and drive on, as a matter of right, to access your property. Apr 15, 2023 at 12:09
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    law.cornell.edu/wex/easement can be created by necessity. Whether that's happening here is too unclear from your description of the circumstances. I suggest contacting a lawyer. This site is not intended as a substitute for the latter. Apr 15, 2023 at 17:46

1 Answer 1


Yes, you are trespassing

Someone with the ostensible authority of the owner (the security guard) has revoked your permission to be on the property. If you remain in spite of this, you are trespassing.

Whether the guard had the actual authority to do so or was actually wrong to do so is something you don’t know and, in any event, is irrelevant to the particular circumstances. Your obligation in the moment is to comply with the direction and leave the premises.

At a latter date, you can clarify the issue with someone higher up in the organization. If it turns out you can use the main roads, ask them to confirm that in writing and keep that document with you for the next time you are challenged.

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    That doesn't sound right - what if they are wrong about the law? How can someone "revoke" a permission presumably based on an authority that they never have in the first place?
    – sfxedit
    Apr 15, 2023 at 17:15
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    @sfxedit: establishing easement by necessity is not as straightforward [in many a US jurisdiction] as you might think extension.umd.edu/resource/… Apr 15, 2023 at 18:14
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    This answer is incorrect because liability for trespassing on federal land turns on the question of privilege, not permission. If OP has an easement or some other right to be on the land, the fact that a a security guard thinks he has "revoked" that permission doesn't carry much legal weight.
    – bdb484
    Apr 16, 2023 at 22:57
  • Good advice. @sfxedit A security guard would normally have authority to revoke a license to be on the property granted by the sign temporarily (assuming, of course, that the person isn't an imposter who isn't a security guard at all).
    – ohwilleke
    May 15, 2023 at 16:51

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