Have you ever wondered why utility workers can access your property without your permission? Or have you ever seen two houses with a shared driveway and wondered how that works? Or wondered who owns the path that leads to public beach access?
Easements are a type of real property that can be complex and difficult to understand but they are also very common so it is important to have a general understanding of what they are and how they affect property rights.
What is an Easement?
An easement is the right of an individual to have some sort of limited ownership or possession of the property that belongs to another individual. In short, it essentially gives another person or entity the right to trespass upon land that is owned by someone else.
While this may sound confusing it really is an easy concept if you look at the bigger picture. Easements are born out of necessity when you have one’s ownership of property but that same property is also a requirement for another’s needs.
For example, easements are especially prevalent on residential properties. Most commonly, public utility companies may own some of your land upon which utilities are located on, but allow you, the property owner, to have an easement. You are allowed to use the property as your own as long as you do not infringe upon the need of the utility company.
HOA and Community Use
Additionally, a neighborhood might have easements that allow for walking paths on your property that are open access to all local residents. These paths, while on your property, are open to all residents and may even be maintained by the neighborhood or HOA.
Shared Driveway Access
In other situations, an easement can be a shared driveway or road for a landlocked property. It is not uncommon for houses, especially in rural areas, to share driveways.
It is important to understand who is responsible for the maintenance before you purchase the home or property.
Implications of Easements for Homebuyers
Future homebuyers may face the biggest limitations that may arise from easements.
New homebuyers should reference the home’s title before buying the property. It should specify if, and where, there are any easements on the property. This could affect future plans to build fences, pools, swing sets, or sheds.
Easements also “run” with the land and not with the homeowner. Therefore, when a home is sold the easement right is transferred to the new homeowner.
Understanding What Crosses the Legal Line
Sometimes easements are not as “easy” as they may seem. When easements are not known or understood, it is easy for numerous legal problems to arise whether it is through their creation, interpretation, or implementation.
Whether you are looking to create, transfer, or terminate an easement it is important to have an experienced real estate attorney who can guide you through the process.
The real estate lawyers at Owen & Dunivan in Brandon, Florida are knowledgeable and experienced in zoning disputes and easements. We are happy to meet with you to discuss your easement concerns.