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What Is an Easement?

Whether you are planning to purchase land, considering building on land you already own, or are planning to sell land, it is imperative that you are aware of any legal restrictions that may affect your rights to the land. One such restriction is an easement. Most developed land is subject to one or more easements and some undeveloped land may even me subject to an easement. It is important that you understand what an easement is and how it can impact your ability to use the land.

In legal terms, an easement is an interest in land that permits the use of another’s land for a specified purpose, or restricts the use of such land in one or more respects. Easements are governed by state law as a general rule, meaning the precise definition of different types of easements may vary somewhat from one state to another; however, the general concept remains the same.

Easements for utilities or access are commonly found on developed land. For example, you might have an easement along your residential property that allows the state to run underground cables or sewer pipes through your property. An access easement may simply allow the city, county, or state government the right to use your land to access another tract of land or something else owned by the government, such as a utility pole. Undeveloped land can also have easements on them for a variety of reasons. For example, you might own a large tract of farm land that has an easement on it allowing overhead power lines to be strung along the property.

An easement can also prevent certain things from occurring on the property. These types of easements are referred to as “negative easements.” For example, the owner of a property might grant an easement to an adjacent property owner that prevents any development on the land that would block the view of the adjacent land owner.

An easement may be temporary or permanent in nature. A permanent easement attaches to the property, meaning that if the owner of the property sells the property, the easement becomes part of the sale. You cannot separate a permanent easement from the property without taking the proper legal steps to do so. This is why it is so important to have a complete title search done prior to purchasing property. A title search should uncover any easements (or other restrictions) that are attached to the property in question. Imagine purchasing a tract of land with the intention of building your dream house, only to find out after the purchase that an easement will prevent you from doing so!

If you are planning to purchase or develop property it is always best to work closely with a Conshohocken, Pennsylvania real estate law attorney. Contact the real estate law attorneys at Curley & Rothman, LLC by calling 610-834-8819 today to schedule your free consultation.

Real EstateScott Rothman