What is an easement, and how can it affect homeowners?

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2021 | boundary and title disputes, real estate law | 0 comments

Under ideal circumstances, your property ownership rights include the right to exclude any and all others from entering or using your property. However, many properties are owned subject to easement rights held by others. When a property is burdened by easement rights held by others, the others have to right to use the owner’s property for the specific purposes allowed under the easement.

Are there different types of easements?

While there are many types of easements, some are more common than others: 

Condo and homeowner’s association (HOA)

With condos, the homeowners typically own their specific residential unit, while the homeowners association owner owns everything else, such as hallways and shared public areas. In this situation, the HOA’s property is typically burdened by easements granting the unit owners the right to use the HOA’s land for specified purposes, such as parking automobiles or using recreational facilities.

Right of way

If your neighbor’s property is not accessible from a public road without crossing a portion of your property, your neighbor may have a right-of-way easement to travel over a specific portion of your property in order to get to and from the nearest public road.

Utility maintenance

Utility companies need continued access to pipes or electrical lines, even when located on your property. A utility easement provides such access, which is typically used by the utility company to perform necessary repairs or replacements.

How can you remove an easement?

Some easements attach to a specific property owner. When the property owner dies or sells the property to another, the easement naturally ends. However, much more commonly, easements attach to the property and not the owner, which means they persist despite a change of ownership. A shared driveway is one example.

With the second type of easement, the property owner typically must pursue litigation to have a chance of ending it. In general terms, the owner must prove that the easement has been abandoned by extended non-use or that the property owner has clearly obstructed the easement holder’s use rights for an extended period of time. An attorney practicing law in the state where the property is located can help provide additional clarification on removing easements and other actions needed.