What is an Easement Agreement?
An easement agreement gives someone the right to use property for a specific purpose without transferring the ownership of the property. Typically, this refers to land. It can be either a public easement or a private easement. The difference between the two is who benefits from the easement.
Examples of public easements are roads, utility poles on private property, and railroad easements. Public easements, such as the right to use roads, are often expressly granted. Sometimes a public easement is obtained by eminent domain – the government can require a private individual to allow the use of his or her land. This may be to provide access to public land by traveling over the private property.
Public easements are usually appurtenant easements meaning that they stay with the land. If the property changes ownership, the easement is still valid. The appurtenant easement benefits the land that is adjoining, not the land that carries the easement, and is recorded with the deed.
A private easement agreement benefits private individuals. These can also be appurtenant, staying with the land. An easement by necessity allows a landlocked property owner access to his or her land over the surrounding property. If either of these properties changes ownership, the easement by necessity stays with the land.
An easement in gross does not stay with the land and is between individuals. For example, neighbor A has an agreement allowing current neighbor B to access his forest. If neighbor B sells his property, he cannot sell the right to access neighbor A’s forest. The new neighbor has to make his or her own easement agreement with neighbor A.
Some other important, but unusual, easement agreements are solar, view, and conservation. Solar easements, or right-to-light easements, found in some localities guarantee longstanding owners of buildings with windows the right to continued access to natural daylight. Construction of buildings that interfere with this light is prohibited.
In some areas, view is protected by an easement. Individuals are prohibited from blocking the view of the easement owner. Conservation easements are voluntary easements that restrict the use of a property. The easement may limit the development or business use of a parcel of land and is often written into the deed. It stays with the property if it is sold.
The most important point to remember is that an easement agreement allows someone other than the owner of the property to use the property. This use needs to be clearly outlined and defined so that no misunderstandings arise. When purchasing or selling property, it can be important for a person to research whether there is an easement on the property or not to ensure that there are no surprises after the deal is closed.
The telephone company wants to erect a telephone pole up on our land we are purchasing through land contract. Do we need the permission of the owner we are purchasing the land from, and if there is any compensation for the land easement, would we be entitled to it?
Doing your research regarding easements is a good thing to do before buying a piece of property. We once had a neighbor who bought a piece of land in the country and found out that the long lane leading to her house was actually an old county road.
She had to go through a lot of hassle and paperwork to get a utility easement worked out with the county. It's not so much the paperwork that is the hassle, but dealing with the other party that can be the hardest thing.
My first experience with an easement agreement was several years ago when we lived on an acerage that had a shared driveway with one other neighbor.
We both purchased our properties close to the same time, and the driveway easement was already in force. This must have been an easement that stayed with the land because we did not have to sign any type of legal agreement when we purchased the property.
An easement agreement can benefit both parties involved. We have a situation where we need to put in a new tile line to our house. In order to get the best drainage we need to cross over our neighbors driveway to install the tile.
Thankfully our neighbor was agreeable to this, and we had an attorney write up legal papers that stated we had driveway easement to her property.
We benefited because we have access to get our tile installed. She is a single lady, and the benefit to her is that we agreed to help her clear some junk and debris from her property.
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