What is an Easement?
Saturday Oct 14th, 2023
If you own a property or are looking to purchase one, you may come across the term ""easement."" Easements are legal rights that allow someone else to use a portion of your property for a specific purpose. Here's what you need to know about easements and how they may affect your property:
What is an easement?
An easement is a legal right to use someone else's property for a specific purpose. This can include a right-of-way for a utility company to access their equipment, a pathway for a neighbor to access their landlocked property, or a shared driveway between two properties.
Types of easements
There are two main types of easements: easements appurtenant and easements in gross.
- Easements appurtenant: This type of easement is attached to the land and benefits the owner of a neighboring property. For example, a right-of-way easement that allows a neighbor to cross your property to access their landlocked property.
- Easements in gross: This type of easement benefits a specific individual or entity and is not attached to the land. For example, an easement granted to a utility company to access their equipment on your property.
How are easements created?
Easements can be created in several ways, including:
- Express grant: An easement can be created through an express grant in a deed or other legal document.
- Implied grant: An easement can be created through an implied grant if it is necessary for the use and enjoyment of the property.
- Prescription: An easement can be created through prescription if someone has used your property for a specific purpose for a certain amount of time (varies by state).
How do easements affect your property?
Easements can affect your property in several ways:
- You may not be able to use or build on the portion of your property subject to the easement.
- You may have to maintain the portion of your property subject to the easement.
- You may be required to allow the holder of the easement to access your property for a specific purpose.
Can easements be terminated?
Yes, easements can be terminated in several ways, including:
- Expiration: Some easements have a specific expiration date.
- Release: The holder of the easement can release their rights in writing.
- Abandonment: The holder of the easement can abandon their rights by not using them for a certain amount of time (varies by state).
- Merger: If the same person or entity owns both the dominant and servient estates, the easement may be terminated by merger.
How Does an Easement Affect Property Value?
Having an easement on your property can have an impact on its value, depending on the type of easement and its purpose. For example, if your property has a utility easement, it may not be as attractive to potential buyers since they may have limited use of that part of the property.
On the other hand, if your property has a scenic easement, it could increase the value since it preserves the view and natural beauty of the land.
If you're considering buying a property with an easement, it's important to research the easement's purpose and the impact it may have on the property's value and use.
Can an Easement Be Terminated?
Under certain circumstances, an easement can be terminated. For example, if the easement was created for a specific purpose and that purpose no longer exists, the easement may be terminated. Similarly, if the owner of the property and the holder of the easement agree to terminate it, they can do so.
In some cases, an easement may also be terminated if the holder of the easement fails to use it for a certain period of time, known as ""abandonment.""
It's important to note that terminating an easement can be a complicated legal process and may require the services of an attorney.
Understanding what an easement is and how it affects your property is an important part of property ownership. Whether you're considering buying a property with an easement or you're dealing with an easement on your own property, it's important to do your research and understand your rights and responsibilities.
If you have questions or concerns about an easement, it's a good idea to consult with an attorney who specializes in real estate law.