An easement gives a person, organization or government entity an interest in land that is owned by someone else. Easements are used for a specific purpose and allow the easement holder to have a right of way or use property.
Types of easements
There are three main types of easements called appurtenant, gross and prescriptive.
An appurtenant easement means that it legally accompanies the property, meaning it conveys with the property, it is permanent and survives any changes in the property’s ownership. An appurtenant easement includes two neighboring properties. The property being accessed is called the servient estate and the property that has the right to access is called the dominant estate.
A gross easement is a common type of easement, often used by utility companies for water, sewer, gas, phone, cable or power lines, for example. It only involves one property and grants access to a specific entity. It doesn’t have to stay with the property when the property is sold, but it often does for practical reasons.
A prescriptive easement is used when a person or organization openly and continuously uses another person’s real property for several years without the owner’s permission. These easements usually occur because there is no formal written agreement in place between the parties.
Before purchasing or improving a property, buyers and owners should be aware if a property has any easements. There are several sources where they can research this, including the county land records office, city hall and the utility company or by having the property surveyed or conducting a title search.
An experienced real estate attorney can answer questions, provide representation and offer advice about easements.