What is an Easement? Will You Have To Share Your Property With Someone Else?


Despite having the word “ease” in it, easement doesn’t usually produce a sense of knowing calm in potential home buyers. In fact, many people haven’t even heard the word easement before. This term can crop up once buyers have made a financial offer on a property and it has been accepted, in which the title search brings up an easement. Essentially, an easement is the right for another person to use a portion of the property for a certain purpose. While this may immediately cause an instinct to run for the hills, it truly may not be as bad as it sounds. Here we explain further.

Forms and Lengths of Easements
The most common forms of easements include right of way, HOA’s/condos, and utility maintenance. An easement may have been created in the past when two property owners needed to establish rules on how to share a section of a property. If the agreement is reached, then it is enforced with a legal document. A homeowner who originally granted the easement may be compensated monetarily, however, homeowners in the future may not be. The three most often used forms of easements are described in more detail here:

Right of Way: A neighbor may have to pass through a portion of the property in order to reach their home from the main road. Or, two properties may share a parking space/driveway together.
Utility Maintenance: This type of easement is granted so that utility companies can run cable lines and power on a property. It is more often seen in newly developed areas or rural towns that are tying existing lines of power.
HOAs/Condos: Those who live in a condo or have their property managed by a homeowners association, will probably have to abide by an easement (at the very least for public spaces) where residents have to walk/pass through.

It is important to understand that the duration length of an easement can vary, and have been defined below:

Appurtenant: An easement that comes with a property and will come along with the sale of a home when transferred to a new owner.
In Gross: The easement only applies to a certain person that has been approved for access to the property. So when that individual sells, future owners are not automatically included in the easement details.

How Real Estate/Easement Lawyers Can Help
It isn’t uncommon for potential home buyers to talk with a real estate lawyer about easements, especially when they have never heard about them before and are unsure about the particulars. A real estate lawyer can read over the easement document, answer questions, and provide clarification when needed so that a home buyer fully understands how the easement will impact their use of the property. Or, if you are in need of having an easement written, a lawyer can help with that too.

Homebuyers are encouraged to speak with a legal professional if they are confused or unsure whether the easement is going to negatively impact their enjoyment of their home. Consider speaking with a real estate lawyer for further assistance and information.