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Easement Definition

An easement is a legal term used within real estate law that describes an agreement that the current owner of a property has with another party to utilize the property.

Easement agreements can be fashioned to allow for specific uses of the property to be listed, and there can be a termination of the easement put in place. This is a contract among two parties that allow limited use of the property to a non-owner for a specific time.

Easements can exist on a property when it is purchased. As a buyer, it is your responsibility to determine if any easements are in place upon purchase.

We provide an easy way to create a thorough Easement Agreement that covers all of the most pertinent sections that every easement needs.

Commons Types of Easements

Easements of various types may already be part of your current property. These easements are most common:

  • Utility Easements: Utility companies must run utilities to homes. As a homeowner, you may need to grant a utility easement to the utility company to use your property to provide utilities to your property or even neighboring properties. These easements may be in the deed of the property and they may also be given to a city.
  • Private Easements: Typically sold to other parties, private easements are given to another party so that they may utilize your property. This can be an easement that allows another person access to a pond on your property or drainage piping needed to be placed under your property.
  • Easements by Necessity: There are circumstances wherein easements are granted by a necessity. These easements are not required to be written and will be enforced through local laws. If, for example, your home is only accessible by crossing over a neighbor's property, an easement by necessity exists.

Other Types of Easements

Under the easement definition, there is also one easement type that has yet to be discussed: Prescriptive easement. A prescriptive easement is given when a property has been used freely and without contest for a specific period of time under the respective state's laws.

The laws and requirements of a prescriptive easement generally dictate that use of the property is between 1-20 years without contest or objection from the property owner.

Easements may be granted to the government. This is done through eminent domain and must be done through the courts. As stated within the constitution, the government will need to compensate the property owner with the fair market value of the property taken or utilized. This can occur when streets need to be widened or lanes need to be added and your property will need to be altered or granted to the government as a result.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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