Everything You Need To Know About Easement in Real Estate

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Everything You Need To Know About Easement in Real Estate

Have you ever closed on a new house only to learn that there's an easement on the title abstract? This means that another party has the right to access your property without asking for your permission and in ways that may not align with your preferences.

Although it may seem unlikely, easements are actually more common than you might think. It's important to have a good understanding of what easements are and how they may impact property rights, especially when considering purchasing a new home.


What Is An Easement In Real Estate?

As a property owner, you may encounter an easement, a legal term for a property right that permits someone else to use your land for a specific purpose and time period. Essentially, it allows a person or entity to enter your real estate for a particular purpose and time period.

Easements are frequently acquired by public utility companies in order to place poles or run pipes either above or beneath private property. Although property owners receive compensation for this, easements can have a detrimental impact on property values. For instance, unsightly power lines can diminish the aesthetic appeal of a plot of land.


How Easement Works

If an individual or entity holds an easement on your property, they are entitled to access your property as long as it aligns with the rules of the easement. This is often the case with local utility companies who need to access power lines or cables on your property.

On the other hand, if you possess an easement, you have the right to access property you aren't legally entitled to. This might come in handy if you need to cross someone else's property to get to your own home.


Examples of an Easement

Easements come in different types and can have various implications for your property. To help you understand better, here's a simple breakdown of the four most common types of easements you may come across.


Utility Easements

Utility easement is an agreement between a property owner and a utility company that allows the latter to install and maintain power lines, water pipes, or other utility systems on the property. This agreement is typically included in the property deed or held by the local government. It ensures that the property owner allows the necessary access to the utility company to provide essential services to the community.


Private Easements

Private easements are essentially rights that property owners can grant to others to use their land for a specific purpose. For example, you may grant your neighbor the right to use a driveway on your land to access their home.

However, private easements can get complicated when they can impact future homeowners. When you grant an easement to someone, it can affect anyone who buys your property in the future. Therefore, it's always a good idea to check for any private easements on a property before purchasing it.

While private easements may not always be a problem, they can come with certain restrictions that can limit what you can do with your property. You can find information about private easements in the property title.


Easements by Necessity

Sometimes, people need to access your property in order to get to where they need to go. This can happen if someone lives next to you and doesn't have any other way to get to the road except by crossing your land. When this happens, the government can create something called an "access easement," which means that your neighbor would be allowed to use your land to get to the road.

You can't say no to this kind of situation because it would cause problems for your neighbor. You would be stopping them from getting where they need to go, and that's not fair. So, the government steps in to make sure everyone can get around and use the land the way they need to..


Prescriptive Easements

If someone uses a part of your property without your permission for a long time, they might be able to claim a legal right to continue using it. This legal right is called a 'prescriptive easement.' For example, if your neighbor keeps parking on your driveway without your permission, and you don't stop them, they could eventually claim a legal right to continue parking there.

It's important to act quickly if someone keeps using your property without your permission. If you don't take action, the court might assume that you're okay with it and grant your neighbor the right to keep using your property.


Should I Avoid A Property With Easements?

The short answer is no.

Easements may sound like a big deal, but they are actually very common and necessary in many situations. They allow access to your property for important reasons such as utility repairs or providing safe paths for neighborhood kids.

However, it is still important to do your homework when buying or selling a house. Just as you would start your home buying process with a pre approval, you should end it by researching whether the property has any liens or easements. This will help you understand the different types of easements and how they can affect your property.


What Impact Will An Easement Have On My Property Ownership?

When you own a property, an easement can affect your ability to do certain things on that property and can limit your ownership rights. Essentially, an easement grants someone else the right to use a part of your property for a specific purpose. This can be beneficial if, for example, you need a utility company to access power lines on your property.

But sometimes, an easement can be a burden if it negatively affects your property value or use. For instance, if a utility company installs equipment that's unsightly and hurts your property's appearance, there's not much you can do about it. So, it's essential to understand the implications of an easement and how it can impact your property ownership before you agree to one.


Remember to always seek the advice of a qualified real estate professional or attorney before making any major decisions regarding property ownership. They can help you navigate the complexities of easements and other potential issues that may impact your property rights. If you have any further questions or concerns, don't hesitate to reach out for assistance.

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