When looking at properties, easements can either make or break any potential development before a layout is even proposed. An easement on a property is the legal right to use another’s land for a specific purpose. The most common type of easement is a utility easement. The municipality or utility service provider usually obtains this kind of easement to install water, electric, etc. lines. Typically, utility easements do not impact properties as most utilities can be installed underground, allowing the area to be planted in or used for recreational uses, provided they do not impact the utility’s use of the easement. The problem that can occur with this kind of easement is that you cannot construct buildings on top of these utilities or within a certain distance, limiting development ability. An example of this would be overhead electric lines or underground pipelines for oil and gas, this area is usually clear of any sort of vegetation other than grass or small shrubs.
Private easements, on the other hand, are specific to the property owner and the individual/entity seeking the use of the land. These easements can vary from temporary grading easements to more permanent access easements for walkways and driveways. For this kind of easement, the entity looking to acquire the easement can either be granted the easement from the property owner or provide some form of compensation to obtain the easement from the owner. Easements stay with the property in question unless the easement holder goes through the process of formally abandoning the easement.
To try and avoid this unwanted surprise, you can obtain a boundary survey with a title report to determine if there are any easements and where they may be located. This can help reduce any potential surprises down the road that would prevent any sort of development on the property. If you have any questions regarding developing your next property or even your current one, give us a call and we will be happy to assist.