Dealing with Easements
Are you considering purchasing a home that has an easement, but you’re not sure how it will affect you? Are you worried that it’s something that could cause you problems down the line? Are you confused about what an easement even is? Here’s what you need to know.
What is an easement?
An easement is the legal right to use someone else’s land for a specific purpose. You may see the term from time to time in listings as you search for homes. Before purchasing a home it’s essential to know about any existing easements on the property and how they may affect your usage of it. Easements can be granted to entities like utility companies or even to individuals such as your neighbors.
How do you know if there is an easement?
Easements are usually filed with the local assessor’s office. If you do a title search for the property, the easement will show up as well. You can hire a title insurance company or a private title searcher to do this for you, or you can review the deed to the property yourself, which you can obtain from the county clerk or recorder. You can also contact the county or city’s zoning department; they will have surveys and plot maps that detail the easement. The local utility company or other entity with easement rights will also have information regarding the easement.
What are the types of easements?
While there many different types of easements, here is a brief overview of the types of easements you may encounter in your home search.
- Right of way – This type of easement allows people to pass through your property, typically to a play area, park or lake. Sometimes, this can include a neighbor’s driveway if it is necessary to cross through your property in order to reach another.
- Utility easements – These easements are generally the most common and are granted to utility companies or the city. They often don’t impact your day-to-day living, and are in place simply to prevent your interference with their use.
What if there is a dispute over an easement?
As a property owner, you may not interfere with the use of a legal easement. If you do, you could be held accountable for damages or even be taken to court. If you find that you are involved in a dispute regarding an easement, you should seek the advice of an experienced local real estate lawyer. Laws vary from location to location, so it’s essential to find out the appropriate details that are applied to your specific situation. While most legal easements are written documents, there are cases where unwritten easements can legally be created through particular circumstances, and the laws can be complex. You’ll definitely want reliable advice from someone knowledgeable that you can trust.
While easements may be a little complicated or cause confusion, they are a normal part of many real estate transactions. The most important thing you can do should you decide to purchase a property with an existing easement is to understand what it entails and abide by those determinations.
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