An easement grants a right to use another person’s land for a limited purpose, while the easement’s grantor retains ownership of the land. Typically,easements allow neighbors to cross land for various reasons, such as to access a public road or place utility lines, but they can also lead to real estate disputes.
When you begin a real estate development project, you will almost certainly need to grant or receive some type of easement. In fact, and you will likely need to address several different easements.
Types of Easements
Some common types of easements are:
- easements for ingress and egress
- driveway easements
- utility easements
- landscape easements
- conservation easements
- cross access easements
- Parking easements
Easements may be created by necessity or implication, but it is preferable to get a written agreement for all easements to be sure that everyone involved understand their rights.
Essential Easement Agreement Terms
When drafting an easement agreement, there are several important terms that need to be discussed to avoid potential, future disputes.
First, the easement area should be clearly depicted. Both parties need to know the exact dimensions of the area that the easement covers.
Second, the agreement should also clearly state what the purpose of the easement is. If the easement is only for ingress and egress, then it must be clear that the easement recipient does not have the right to build any structures on the land, park there, use the area for drainage, or anything other than ingress and egress.
Third, the easement should make clear who is responsible for various aspects of maintenance of the easement. This will typically allocate responsibility for taxes and insurance, repairs, safety, improvements and any other general conditions of the property. While the property owner would typically be responsible for these things, the easement agreement can allocate a portion of this responsibility to the easement owner. The parties may also establish indemnity arrangements, allocating risk to each other based on whose is using the easement at the time of an incident.
Fourth, an easement must specify whether it is an easement in gross or an easement appurtenant. An easement in gross is only among the individuals or entities entering into it. It terminates when the property owner sells the land or the holder of the easement dies. It cannot be transferred. An easement appurtenant runs with the land. It will remain valid even if the property is sold. New landowners will continue to be bound by the easement.
Last, the easement agreement should specify what is being paid for the easement.
By getting the proper easements and spelling out all the obligations of the parties, you can put yourself in a much better position to avoid real estate disputes in the future.
Chernoff Law handles business and real estate litigation matters, including easement and property line disputes. Contact us to discuss your case with an experienced real estate attorney.