An easement is a legal agreement between the property owner and a non-owner to utilize the property in some fashion. Two examples would be a shared driveway easement or a utility easement. Your name is on the deed, but your neighbor or utility company has the right to use a portion of your land as the easement states. It is important to be aware of the easements that affect your property or property you are about to purchase.
So how do you go about finding easements?
Easements are typically recorded at the county recorder’s office and they are public record if you would like to research easements for yourself. Searching for easements can be difficult, especially if parcels have changed owners multiple times. Some easements can go back over 100 years and require some extensive legwork to find. Ordering a title report with your local title company or the services of a real-estate attorney would be well advised.
What are the different types of easements?
The most common are utility easements and private or right-of-way easements. Utility easements may include the use of power, either underground or overhead, phone/data, gas lines, well/public water and sewer lines. Private easements could include driveways, walkways or paths and access to bodies of water. Some of these easements require some sort of service agreement to be recorded with the easement. One example would be a shared driveway. The service agreement would state who is responsible for proper maintenance of the driveway and how often service is to occur. It would also include any costs associated with servicing the driveway and who is responsible for them.
How does one gain, remove or adjust an easement?
Easements are typically granted or removed by a binding written document between the parties involved. Some examples would be a shared well that is no longer in service or a shared driveway that is no longer in use. If the original easement was recorded, it is required for the removal or adjusted easement to be recorded, as well. Typically, some form of compensation is given to the property owner that is allowing the easement.
Easements can be difficult to find and are often overlooked. This can sometimes be costly in cases of adding to a home or pouring a concrete driveway.