An easement right gives a person license to use another person’s land for a specific purpose. Easements are commonly used for installing power, utility, gas, and phone lines as well as for putting in water and sewer pipes. Some of the most common types of easement rights are express and implied. Other types of easements include those created by permission or by prescription as well as gross, appurtenant, private, public, and conservation easements.
An express easement right is typically created by a written document, such as a deed, and it expressly gives a person the right to use another's land. An express easement by reservation is formed when a landowner sells a piece of real estate but reserves the right to use the land in some manner. Implied easement rights, on the other hand, are created when a land owner divides property into two plots and then sells them to separate owners. If an easement, such as an access road, is required in order for one of the owners to reasonably enjoy his or her property, an implied easement may be created. This may sometimes be referred to as an easement by necessity.
Permissive easements are created when one person is given permission to use another person’s land. These easements are often called licenses, and the property owner usually reserves the right to take away the easement rights at any time. A prescriptive easement right is created without the owner’s permission under the doctrine of adverse possession. In order to secure prescriptive easement rights, a person usually needs to use another’s land for a certain period of time, which is set by statute. In addition, the use typically needs to be open, continuous, and exclusive.
Gross property easements are given to a certain person or entity, and they do not pass on to subsequent owners. For example, if a man is given a gross easement to use a path in his neighbor’s yard and the man later sells his house, the new homeowner would not have the right to use the path. In contrast, appurtenant easement rights run with the land and can be passed on to subsequent owners through a deed or will. If the man in the example above had an appurtenant easement to use the neighbor’s path, for instance, that right could be passed along if the man sells his house.
Private easement rights belong to people or companies while public easements are generally given for public use. Conservation easements are designed to preserve land for use by future generations, and they typically limit the way a piece of property can be used or developed by a property owner. With a conservation easement, the property owner voluntarily donates or sells certain easement rights, such as the right to develop land, to a public agency or private entity. Landowners can sometimes realize tax breaks for creating conservation easements.