EASEMENTS: HOW ONE CAN GIVE SOMEONE ELSE A RIGHT TO USE YOUR PROPERTY.
If you own property, there is a good chance that it is subject to an Easement. Easements can be relatively new, created within the last few years, or possibly over 100 years old.
In order to be effective, an Easement must be recorded. This means that the Easement is placed of record with the county in which your property is located. A recorded Easement should show up on your property’s title history (along with any mortgages you have or deeds that transferred ownership of the property over the years).
An Easement essentially give another party certain rights to your property. A common example of an Easement is one for utility or cable companies. Modern technology allows electrical, cable, and other wires to be placed underground. These wires may then run underneath parts of your property. Utility and cable companies need to be able to fix, repair, or update their equipment. As a result, they may be granted an Easement to perform this work on your property.
Another example of an Easement is a neighbor’s right to use a driveway on your property to access the road. If your neighbor’s does not have any road access, otherwise known as “land-locked,” he may be given the right to use a portion of your driveway in the form of an Easement.
You should avoid building structures over any Easements that affect your property. This is called “encroaching” on an Easement.
An encroachment on an Easement could be a fence that runs along a utility company’s Easement and prevents them from digging underground to repair their equipment. Or an encroachment could be a gate built on your driveway that doesn’t allow your neighbor to access the street.
Encroachments on an Easement can cause problems if it prevents a party from using the Easement for its proper purpose. You may be forced to remove a portion of your fence if it prevents a utility company from reaching its equipment. Or you may need to remove the gate that doesn’t allow your neighbor to get to the road.
Encroachments on an Easement can also provide issues if you wish to sell your home. A company that an owner’s title insurance policy to your buyer will not provide insurance for many encroachments over Easements. This can make your property more difficult to sell.
Having a good attorney can help understanding any Easements that affect your property. It can clear up confusion you may have as a property owner so you do not have to face a lawsuit down the road.