Easements are a complex part of real estate law, affecting who can use a piece of property, how they can use it, and what rights the property owner maintains. If your property has an easement or you’re considering buying a piece of property with an attached easement, it’s important to know what your rights and obligations are.
Concerned about an easement infringing on your property rights and your enjoyment of your property? Let’s talk. Call Hodges Trial Lawyers at 256-826-4129 to set up a consultation now.
What Easements Are and What They Do
Easements grant someone the specific use of a piece of property without granting them ownership of said property. For example, if a large property is split up into lots and one lot is locked in by the others, that piece of property may be granted an easement through a neighboring lot in order to reach the road.
Easements are established in a variety of ways and for a wide range of purposes, and in some cases, property owners do not even know they exist until someone uses an easement.
Easements provide different types of access to different groups. They include:
- Utility: Utility easements are incredibly common. The vast majority of properties do have easements that allow utility companies access to the property as needed to install, upgrade, or access equipment. These easements may prevent you from doing work that would damage the utility companies’ equipment.
- Public access: If your property borders a public piece of property, such as a school, walking trail, or beach, the public does have the right to access that public property. If your property is the only way to access the public area, there may be a public easement that allows people to cross through your land.
- Private access: In some cases, property owners allow each other to use their property in specific ways. This type of agreement would only exist between these parties and would not grant access to the public as a whole. For example, if you let your neighbor cross through your land to reach their garage or use a bordering patch of land for their garden, they would have an easement.
Types of Easements
Easements can be created in different ways. The first and most obvious is an easement by conveyance. This happens when two parties agree to establish an easement and sign off on the necessary legal documentation to formalize it. This option best protects the rights of both parties.
An easement may also be established by prescription, which occurs when one party uses the land for 20 or more years with the actual or presumed knowledge of the owner. Adverse possession can also create an easement.
Parties may also establish easements by reservation, contract, or necessity.
An Easement Could Affect Your Property Rights and Value
In most cases, easements don’t create issues for either the grantor or grantee. However, when there are ambiguities in the language used or the limits of the easement are not clearly outlined in legal documentation, disputes may arise. Look at this from the point of view of the property owner, also known as the grantor.
They own a set piece of property. Anything that cuts into their full and exclusive right to that property could drive down their property value or limit how they use their own land. For a piece of land with beachfront access, privacy may be a top concern. If that piece of land has an easement that allows the public to cross through the property to access the beach, the homeowners could have a very difficult time selling the property.
If a grantee begins pushing the limits of an easement or tries to argue that the easement gives them more rights than it actually does, the homeowner may be forced into legal action to protect their rights.
Choose Hodges Trial Lawyers for Your Real Estate Legal Needs
Easements can significantly complicate property ownership, decreasing the value of your land or even limiting how you can use it. It’s important to protect your rights and know your obligations with the help of a real estate attorney. Call Hodges Trial Lawyers at 256-826-4129 or send us a message online to schedule a consultation with our team.