Dealing with Easements and Rights of Way

Posted on: 24 October 2019

Most property owners avoid land which has easements as much as possible when investing. The fear of easements comes from the fact that easements are not well understood, and they are seen as a nuisance, a grave encumbrance on a piece of property and a weakness that diminishes the value and use of a piece of property. The truth is that there is more to easements than people care to find out, which is why they are held in so much contempt. Here are a few basic things to understand if you are about to own or develop a piece of land with an easement.

Different Easement Types

Easements can be held in different ways. The first and most common way is an arrangement whereby the easement to property A is owned by the owner of property B. In this arrangement, if property B changes ownership, the new owner will still have the right to use part of property A. The other easement type is known as easement in gross, this is not an appurtenant easement, and it is only held by a current property owner and not passed on to another property owner. A competent surveyor will help you determine what type of easement a piece of property you are interested in has.

Terms of Use

There are certain restrictions that you will face as the owner of a property with an easement on it. First, if the easement is a driveway that connects your property to that of a neighbour, you are not allowed to plant a fence or other structure which could obstruct movement for your neighbour. A common mistake that landowners make is assuming that they can negotiate the use of the easement. Anything done against the easement can earn you a lawsuit from your neighbour. Also, the court can order you to bring down a structure when you have built it on an easement.

Identifying Easements

The biggest challenge in dealing with land that has encumbrances is that you might not realise there is one at first glance. Some easements aren't recorded on the property deed, and you will only find them on the public records about the land. It is, therefore, your responsibility to check for easements before building any structures on your property. 

Easements are one of the most challenging issues to deal with in property ownership. However, not all easements should be a cause for alarm. It is advisable to consult a competent surveyor before erecting any structure on your land to avoid making building on easements. Speak to a land surveyor to learn more. 


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