How Do I Find Out About an Easement on My Property?

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How Might Easements by Necessity Affect My Property Ownership Rights?

Even if it isn’t written down, a legal easement can exist if it’s absolutely necessary to cross someone’s land for a legitimate purpose. The law grants people a right of access to their homes, for example. So if the only access to a piece of land is by crossing through your property, the law recognizes an easement allowing access over your land. This is called an “easement by necessity.” When land is subject to such an easement, the landowner may not interfere with the neighbor’s legal right.

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Do Easements Impact Property Value?

Easements can impact the value or marketability of a property, though it ultimately depends on the specifics of the agreement. If easements are exceptionally strict or severely limit the use of the land by the owner, a property may become less desirable and therefore drop in value. Conversely, any benefits provided to the owner of a dominant estate that are transferable may be deemed more valuable to the next prospective owner.

What Is An Easement?

An easement is a legal right to use someone else’s property for a designated purpose. For example, a utility company may hold an easement to install and maintain water piping under your property. Easements do not grant any ownership rights to their beneficiaries. Instead, beneficiaries are only allowed to use the property as specified in the agreement.

Property owners may not interfere with the purpose of an easement. For example, if a beneficiary electric company has wires strung across your yard, you can not take them down or block the workers’ path. Violators may be held liable for damages to the easement holder. Conversely, easement holders may not place an unreasonable burden on the property owner.

Locating Easement Information

Easement information can be found on the property deed or in the closing paperwork provided by the realtor. Property owners may obtain a copy of the property deed from the county records office. If you have trouble accessing these documents, contact a real estate attorney to help you find easement information for your property.

Easements Vs. Rights-Of-Way Rights-of-way are a type of easement that allows certain non-owners to travel or pass through a property. These easements may be public or private, depending on the location of the property. The most common example of private property under a public right-of-way is a road or path that leads to a public area, such as a park or public beach.

Other Means of Finding Easement Information

For accurate information about public land easements, private property easements and shared parcel use, a property owner or potential buyer should head to the county clerk and look at the property’s public records. Legal records of easements in gross and easements appurtenant can be found with transfer deeds and other documents related to a property. Finding out whether there is a prescriptive or implied easement on a property can be trickier because proving that this type of easement exists requires the easement’s user to prove that it fits the criteria for a legal easement, and this criteria varies from state to state. Prospective buyers concerned about these kinds of easements can work with real estate lawyers to determine not just whether easements are present on a property, but also their validity.

Another source of information about utility easements is the utility companies themselves. Property owners and prospective buyers can contact utility providers and request information about existing easements on specific parcels of land.

Individuals considering buying property can also seek easement information from their title insurance providers. A title insurance provider verifies real estate titles and provides owners and prospective owners with information about liens, easements and other issues about their properties that could lead to lawsuits and title disputes.

Are Easements On Your Property A Bad Thing?

An easement on your property is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can impact your use of the property and its value, should you decide to sell.

Both of these factors depend on the type of easement that your property has, so be sure to check beforehand. 

If your property has a right of way, then you could be disrupted by the third party using the property.

You might find that vehicles run through your property, or spot a walker early in the morning while you walk to the bathroom.

You might also find that a right of way, especially through a garden area limits your use of it.

Often, you can work around these issues, but if the right of way is extremely busy, you might find that you are disrupted by people or noise pollution, both of which can impact your quality of life.  

Depending on the easement, it can also impact the value of the property.

Sometimes, you can agree with the party involved with the easement to vary the route to avoid a loss of value, but this isn’t always the case. Again, this will vary depending on the easement and how busy the right of way is. 

For those purchasing a property, it’s best to speak to the seller or realtor to find out as much information as possible about the easement.

You will also want to take advice from a valuer to find out if the easement can impact the value. Once you have this information, it is best to carefully consider if you want to purchase the property or not.

This is not a decision anyone can make for you, so be sure to weigh up your options and do what is right for you!

What Are the Effects of Easements?

The landowner who grants an easement can’t build structures within a prescribed area surrounding it, and they also can’t use fencing to hinder access. Any activity that blocks the use of the easement is prohibited.

Easements create problems for property owners when they don't bother to find out whether easements exist and where they are. For instance, they might install fencing and then wonder how the fence can be torn down by the utility company when it needs access to something.

Important You should know where all easements are, as well as what restrictions are associated with them before buying a property. Be sure to look over the title commitment or preliminary title report before closing.

Creating An Easement

There are a few different ways to go about creating an easement. The method you use depends on the type of property you have, the reason for the easement and whether you can reach the easement amicably with the other party or property. If an easement needs to be created, it will happen in one of the following ways.

Express Easement

An express easement is the most common method of easement creation. It refers to one that’s put down in some form of writing, like a deed or will. It’s typically recorded in a legal document and signed by both parties.

Implied Easement

Unlike an expressed easement, an implied easement is neither written down nor documented because it’s obvious, or implied, that the property would need to be used for the enjoyment and use of the other party.

Here’s an example of an implied easement. Let’s say you own a large piece of land on a main road and you decide to sell part of it. You sell half of your land (plot A) and keep the other half (plot B). The land is divided in a way that you can only access your land (plot B) by crossing the land you sold (plot A). So, when you sell plot A, it is implied that you can still use it to get to and from the main road.

Easement By Necessity

An easement by necessity, is created by law out of necessity, instead of by an agreement between neighbors. It’s usually created when the only reasonable and practical access to the property is through another’s property and an implied agreement cannot be reached. Once there is a new way to access the property (for example, if a new road or path is created), the easement can be terminated.

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