Easement Rights

Madelaine K Properties April 14, 2013

Are you aware of your Easement Rights?

An easement is the right of another person or entity, such as a public utility or government agency, to use part of your property. Does your property have any easements? Chances are, it does. Most easements are favorable, such as utility easements under or over your property to serve the property and neighbors.

Easement appurtenant benefit a neighbor’s property: If your property has an Appurtenant Easement over a neighboring property, then that property would be burdened by your easement. Such easements were created for specific purposes, the most common of which is ingress and egress. An example would be, an easement appurtenant created for a neighbor to reach their property from the street by driving over your property. Your property is called the sevient tenement while your neighbor’s property, which benefits, is the dominant tenement.

Easements in gross are usually for utilities: Most likely your property has an underground or overhead utility line that also serves your neighbors. In that case you are probably subject to an easement in gross. There is no dominant tenement in this case, but your servient tenement is burdened by the public utility easement in gross. For example, a residence may have an easement in gross sewer line long the property, which benefits the residences as well as the neighbors. Many homes have water, sewer, phone, and electric easements in gross along the back or side of the property. Most easements in gross were created at the time the parcel was subdivided and are sometimes recorded against the title to each property. These easements in gross benefit the public utilities. Easements in gross usually are alongside the edge of the property and do not interfere with use of the property. Occasionally, however, an easement in gross will interfere with full property enjoyment. If the easement in gross was properly recorded, the property owner has no recourse and must tolerate it. But if the titles insurance policy did not disclose an easement in gross then the insurer is liable and steps can be taken.

Example: Sewer line under a backyard where the homeowner wants to construct a swimming pool.

Prescriptive easements can be troublesome: A prescriptive easement arises without the property owners consent when someone, usually a neighbor, uses part of the property without the owner’s approval. Often these circumstances can be troublesome and continuous. However, a prescriptive easement need not be exclusive and can be shared. The best way to prevent prescriptive easements from arising is to periodically inspect parcel boundaries to be certain.

Example: If a neighbor continuously drives over another neighbors driveway in order to reach their garage. If they do not stop after being asked, one can erect a fence which is a permanent, prescriptive easement.


Any questions or concerns on easements regarding your property?

Or looking to relocate?

Don’t hesitate to call…