3 reasons there might be an easement on a property

Easements are not inherently bad. There are many situations where the existence of an easement will not markedly impact the value of a property, nor the property owner’s use of it. Still, you don’t want to be surprised down the line. It’s beneficial to know the exact nature and scope of an easement before agreeing to any real estate transaction.

With that in mind, here are three situations that might result in the creation of an easement.

An outside utility company needs access

Easements for utilities are quite common. A gas, electric or water company may need limited access for meter readings, or might have to use a specific private road in order to reach infrastructure. In some cases, there may also be an easement allowing the company to do certain work on equipment within the private property.

The lot was previously broken up

It’s not uncommon for a developer to take one large piece of land and break it into smaller pieces. This can be problematic, in a practical sense, when some of the fragmented properties aren’t accessible via a public road. When this happens, there are two types of easements commonly used to resolve this issue:

  • Implied easement – When continued use of private property, such as a road, was clearly intended when the owner split the parcel
  • Easement by necessity – This is similar to an implied easement, but can be created when no other option to reach a public road exists

A court could grant either of these easements even if nothing was ever previously agreed to in writing.

When the use has been happening anyway

There is a type of easement known as a prescriptive easement, which might be created under very specific circumstances. This can happen if one person uses part of another party’s land:

  • Without that property owner’s consent
  • In a way that is reasonably obvious
  • Openly, in a manner adverse to the property owner
  • Continuously for at least five years

Should the courts find these markers have been met, they may create a prescriptive easement formalizing this particular arrangement.