Derek Morgan
Derek Morgan
young couple sitting on the sofa together and using a laptop while going through their finances
Derek Morgan
Derek Morgan

    What are Easements?

    Easements are a common legal concept in real estate that allow one party to grant another the right to use their property, or a portion of it, for specific purposes. They are often granted to utility companies to access their lines, and in some cases, may allow neighbors or even the public to have certain rights on private property. It's important for potential homebuyers to understand what easements are in place before signing a contract as they can impose restrictions on how the property is used or what kinds of improvements can be made. 

    The 3 Main Types of Easements

    Easement Appurtenant

    An easement appurtenant is tied to the property and transfers automatically to new owners. This type of easement is typically created between two neighboring properties to allow for access, such as a shared driveway, and benefits both properties. For the property where the easement is located, it's considered a "burden," but considered a "benefit" on the property where the easement is used.

    Easement in Gross

    An easement in gross acts like a "permission slip," granting someone else the right to use portions of your land. This type of easement is not tied to a specific piece of property and is often granted to utility companies. It's important to note that an easement in gross does not transfer to new owners if the property is sold.

    Easement by Prescription

    An easement by prescription is acquired over time through open and continuous use without the owner's permission. For example, if a neighbor has been using a portion of your property to access their own for an extended period of time, they may be able to acquire an easement by prescription. However, the length of time and specific requirements for acquiring an easement by prescription vary by state.

    Considering an Easement when Buying a Home

    If you're in the process of buying a home, it's important to check for any existing easements. Easements can be found in disclosure documents, local assessor's offices, county clerk's offices, and through a title search. You should also check with utility companies to see if they have any easements on the property. 

    It's a good idea to consult with a real estate attorney to understand any legal implications of an existing easement. This can help you weigh the agreement and any potential limitations it may impose on your use of the property. 

    Property Owners with Existing Easements

    To avoid any legal action, it's important to understand each party's rights and to abide by the agreements made within the easement. If you're considering making changes to your property, such as adding a patio or installing a fence, be sure to check with any relevant homeowners associations to ensure that the changes won't violate any existing easements.

    If you want to challenge an existing easement, it's best to consult with a real estate lawyer. The process of challenging an easement may involve going to court, so it's important to have legal guidance.

    Conclusion

    Easements are a common legal concept that grant access to another party for specific purposes without granting ownership rights. Understanding easements and their potential impact on a property is important for potential homebuyers and existing property owners. If you're in the process of buying a home, be sure to check for any existing easements and consult with a real estate attorney to understand any legal implications. If you already own a property with an easement on it, make sure you understand each party's rights and abide by the agreement to avoid any legal issues. 

    If you're ready to buy a home, visit unrealestate.com and learn more about how we make buying your home simpler, faster, and more affordable than ever. Find listings near and far at unrealestate.com/search to find your dream home today.

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