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How much do you know about easements?

While many people have a good understanding of the real estate process thanks to their education, their own experience and perhaps even their exposure to television and the Internet, there are nevertheless certain topics with which they might not be entirely familiar.

For example, one extremely important issue that commonly arises in the context of residential real estate, but which also causes significant confusion among prospective homebuyers is easements. In recognition of this, today's post -- the first in a series -- will begin taking a closer look at this seemingly arcane topic.   

What exactly is an easement?

An easement is generally defined as a non-possessory interest in land owned by another. In other words, an easement is a legal mechanism that grants the holder the right to use or access property that they do not otherwise own.

Consider a scenario in which the only way to access House B is via a road that crosses the property on which House A is located. Here, if the owner of House A grants the owner of House B a right-of-way on the road that enables them to get to their property, they will have granted them an easement.  

Are there any limitations on easements?

Those granted an easement do not have the ability to occupy the land covered by the easement or exclude others from it (absent those scenarios in which their presence interferes with use). Conversely, the property owner is free to use the land covered by the easement as they see fit and can exclude anyone they please with the exception of the holder of the easement.  

Using the above example, while the owner of House B is free to use to road, they cannot stop others from doing the same unless they are interfering with access. The owner of House A, however, can use the road and also prohibit everyone from using it -- with the exception of the owner of House B.

If you have questions or concerns relating to easements, or any other land use or zoning issue, please consider meeting with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible.

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