What is a property easement, and what does it mean?

On Behalf of | Jul 14, 2023 | Real Estate Litigation

As a property owner, you have certain rights. However, there are also legal concepts you must understand. One concept is property easement. 

A property easement refers to the right to use or access a portion of another person’s property for a set purpose. It gives rights to some entities and people who don’t own the property. Understanding the nature and types of property easements is important for property owners and those who benefit from them.

Understanding property easements

A property easement is a legal right that allows a person or entity (the easement holder) to use or access a portion of someone else’s property, known as the servient estate, for a particular purpose. This purpose could include accessing a landlocked property, running utility lines or crossing another’s land to reach a public road. The easement holder’s rights are limited and typically defined by the terms of the easement agreement.

Types of property easements

There are several property easements, which include the following:

  • Easements appurtenant: An easement appurtenant benefits a particular property and is transferred with the land. It involves two separate properties: the dominant estate (property benefiting from the easement) and the servient estate (property subject to the easement). This type of easement is attached to the properties themselves, meaning that if either property is sold, the easement rights are transferred to the new owner.
  • Easements in gross: Easements in gross do not benefit a particular property but rather an individual or an entity. These easements are not attached to a specific parcel of land and do not transfer with the property’s ownership. Examples include utility companies’ rights to access property for maintenance or conservation easements granted to environmental organizations.
  • Prescriptive easements: Prescriptive easements are acquired through continuous and uninterrupted use of another’s property for a specific period. A prescriptive easement may be established if certain requirements are met.

A property easement grants certain rights to individuals or entities to use or access a portion of someone else’s property for a specific purpose. Property owners and easement holders should understand the nature and implications of easements to ensure that their respective rights are protected and respected.