As you search for a home, you may have come across the term easement in a listing and wondered what it means. An easement is a legal arrangement by the owner of the property and a non-owner to use the property in some fashion. You may see this term used in listings where a home is located near a public recreational area. For example, the property may come with a walking easement to the nearby lake.
If there are any existing easements between the current seller and a neighbor, the seller’s attorney or the seller’s agent needs to advise the buyer. It’s important to know if easements exist and how they affect the purchase or usage of the home being bought. Easements often allow the use of a pathway between adjacent properties or a pathway to reach a common play area, yard or even a fish pond.
The most common easement is called the right of way, allowing people to pass through. Easement of support refers to excavations of property. Delivery people and meter readers all have the right to step on your property by easement of right of way. Less common are easements of light and air and rights regarding artificial waterways. Easements can be hotly contested, especially where rights to oceanfront property or conservation land are in dispute.
Easements are mostly created by a binding written document. As a rule, courts base the allowance to have an easement on intention of the original parties in each situation. Courts prefer written easements and also consider account customs, habits and practices for the property.
A real estate attorney working for a home buyer can investigate any current easements connected to the property. The attorney will explain the ramifications to the buyers. Because easements are a property law issue, they are usually straightforward. An easement can be canceled in writing, by expiration date, in estoppel and even by death. For further clarification about your specific situation, consult with a real estate attorney on what easements mean to your home purchase.