What are Easements?

If you’ve been looking into buying land, you need to know about easements.

In this article, we’ll look into what easements are, and the different types of easement you should be aware of when purchasing land.

Simply put, an easement is “the right of use over the property of another”. For an easement to exist, there must be one property with a feature that a neighboring property, or another entity, needs to use.

When you are buying a piece of land in Texas, it is important to know if neighboring properties have any easements over the property. Likewise, you should find out if the land has any easements over neighboring properties.

Easements aren’t complicated to understand once you start looking at practical examples.

Main types of easements:

An easement appurtenant is permanently attached to the land. A common example is when Property A does not have access to the main road except by driving across Property B. When the ownership of either property changes, the right of use, or the obligation to give the easement, remains in place.

An easement in gross is tied to a specific person or entity.

Easements in gross can be positive or negative. An example of a “positive easement” is when the owner of Property A allows the owner of Property B to pick fruit from their fruit orchard.

A “negative easement”, on the other hand, is when one owner agrees not to do something that would disadvantage the other. For example, the owner of Property A agrees not to build a three-story home on his property that would block the view of his neighbor. An easement in gross can be terminated by mutual consent or when the owner of either property changes or passes away. 

Another example of an easement in gross is an easement given to a utility company. For example, if a power line, water supply, or sewage line runs across your property, the utility company would typically have an easement to access your land to perform maintenance.

The final type of easement is a prescriptive easement. This kind of easement arises when someone uses a neighbor’s property without permission.

A common example is a neighbor that builds a fence on the wrong side of the boundary line. Let’s say the landowner whose land is being encroached on doesn’t notice, doesn’t want to fight, or it doesn’t bother them. If this continues for a specified number of years without anything being said or done, the neighbor can apply to the courts for a permanent prescriptive easement. This type of easement can be tricky to deal with when you enter the picture as the new landowner. 

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors. 

Easements are usually a good thing. With some give-and-take between neighbors, you can protect your investment, get the utilities you need, and remain on good terms. While the seller is obligated to disclose all easements to prospective buyers, the seller may not always be aware of prescriptive easements. You can check out this article to learn more about easement laws in Texas!

Here at Lonestar Land Sales, we have land expert that will guide you through the due diligence required to make sure you are aware of all easements before buying a particular property. Call us today if you are ready to buy land near Austin, Dallas, Houston, or San Antonio. 

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