If you’re thinking about purchasing a particular piece of property, it’s important to know if there are any easements involved. The term easement refers to the right of persons or entities other than the legal owner to use or control a portion of the property.
Examples of Easements
Some common types of easements include:
- Right of entry
- Right to the support of land and buildings
- Right of light and air
- Right to water
Easements often involve neighboring homeowners such as when a neighbor uses a shared driveway. However, they can also involve companies, such as when a utility company has power lines on the property.
Once an easement has been established, the use of the easement can’t be changed or altered.
Your Rights and Obligations
When there is an easement attached to the property you want to purchase, it is considered the servient estate. The land that benefits from the easement is called the dominant estate.
Your obligations to the dominant estate depend on the written agreement creating the easement.
Generally, you are free to use the property in any way you choose as long as your activities don’t infringe on the rights of the dominant estate to benefit from the easement. If you are planning to build on the land you want to purchase, such as adding a new garage or a swimming pool, you’re not allowed to build on top of the portion of the property covered by the easement.
It is vital that you check to ensure all easements have been properly recorded. If there is no document outlining the terms of an easement shown on the survey, it will likely be listed as an exemption to your title insurance. In this case, you’d be personally liable if someone else tried to claim the easement rights.
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