Easements are an area of real estate law that can often result in confusion and issues down the road. They are not always clear or fully written out, so it can be difficult to know how to deal with them. Here are some of the basics of understanding easements:
What is an easement?
Easements are essentially an agreement that gives a person who is not the owner of the property certain rights or keeps the owner from doing certain things.
What are the different types of easements?
Generally, easements can fall into two categories:
- Affirmative – These easements give the holder the right to or the owner the responsibility to do something. For example, the holder could have an easement that gives them the right to enter a certain area of the property.
- Negative – This type of easement prohibits something from happening with the property. This could be something like putting up a fence or changing a certain feature on the property. Most negative easements are covered by the local homeowner’s associations.
We can also define easements by the property, relationship or specific use that they involve:
- Utility easement – One of the most common types, a utility easement gives rights to your utility company, city, county or state.
- Private easement – A property owner can sell a private easement to someone, giving them the right to be on or use a certain part of the property, like a driveway or well.
- Easement by necessity – If it is essential for one property owner to cross another’s to reach their land, an easement by necessity could be in place.
- Prescriptive easement – A prescriptive easement is like an easement by necessity in that it gives one right to access another’s property, but it has a time limit and the borrowing party may be required to pay a part of the property taxes.
- Public easement – A public easement happens if an area of land owned privately needs to be accessed for public use.
How do you deal with an easement?
Creating, negotiating or ending an easement often depends on the type of easement you are dealing with. Some will end when the timeframe concludes. If one person buys the land of another, they may not need an easement any longer. Still, if there is a concern about an easement or the individuals involved, you should talk with an attorney. They will help you understand your easement, your rights within it and understand how to move forward.