The Types Of Easements in Real Estate

June 4, 2024
Savage, Royall & Sheheen

When you own, or are considering owning land, you may not have the full and exclusive right to it. Real estate law allows for certain flexibilities, or for others to gain rights to your land at the expense of your rights. An easement is not always a bad thing, but it is something that you need to consider during the real estate transaction process. If an easement already exists, you need to make sure that its scope is not being exceeded, and you take action if someone is misusing it. Since easements are a legal issue, you need to help of an experienced real estate attorney. Reach out to the lawyers at Savage, Royall & Sheheen, LLP to discuss types of easements in real estate and how they pertain to your case.

What Is an Easement?

An easement is an encumbrance of the owner’s use of the property. It grants someone else a limited right to use the property, meaning that the owner does not get the full and exclusive enjoyment of their land. From the owner’s perspective, an easement is not necessarily considered to be a good thing. It could affect the value of the land and create legal issues going forward.

The easement allows another person or entity to use another person’s land. It can be an express agreement between two parties or implied from the circumstances. The easement holder does not have an ownership interest per se, but they have a continued ability to access and enjoy the land for the purposes outlined in the easement, so long as they follow its terms.

How Does an Easement Work?

The various types of easements in real estate are for certain specified purposes. For example, one party may have the right to pass through the property of the other to reach a road. As long as the easement holder follows the easement terms, the property owner cannot block them.

Easements are often recorded in public property records. While it is not an ownership interest, it is something that the holder possesses that belongs to them. However, the easement holder can exceed the scope of the easement, which could then lead to disputes.

The Types Of Easements in Real Estate

Some common types of easements in real estate include:

  • Private Easements: Two parties can agree to establish an easement. The issue is that a private easement may follow the land when it is sold to a new owner. The party who owns the easement does not control what the owner does with their land, but their rights should not be taken away.
  • Utility Easements: Utility companies often get easements through private land for things like power lines. Utility easements can impose restrictions on an owner, who may not be able to do things like plant trees that interfere with power lines.
  • Easements by Necessity: Some easements are implied by law to benefit one property owner over another. For example, if one property owner is landlocked with no access to a road, there may be an implied even through the property of another.

Should I Buy a Property with an Easement?

In the end, it is your decision about whether the benefits of owning a property with an easement outweigh the potential cost. There is no right or wrong answer to this question. What is essential is that you know that an easement exists because it can affect your property value. The owner of the land generally has a legal obligation to inform you about any easements. However, there may be some easements that are so obvious that you are the one who is expected to know about them before you purchase the land.

Always consult with an attorney about the types of easements in real estate, and the legal and practical implications of easements on land that you are considering purchasing. You should certainly speak to a lawyer if you have already bought land and the owner did not disclose that there was an easement because you may be able to file a lawsuit against the seller.

Can a Property Owner Block an Easement?

If you have purchased a property, and the easement already exists and is mentioned in the public records, you cannot block it. You should factor in whether you are willing to buy the land and the price that you would pay.

However, if someone is to use your land as if they have an easement when it does not exist, you have the legal obligation to speak up and stop it. Otherwise, if the usage continues for long enough, the easement could become permanent through the operation of South Carolina law.

Contact a South Carolina Real Estate Lawyer

The attorneys at Savage, Royall & Sheheen, LLP help property owners or others with an interest in land when there are issues regarding their rights. Real estate controversies can be difficult and complex, and you need an experienced attorney to represent your position. You can schedule an initial consultation with one of our attorneys today by sending us a message through our website or by calling us at 803-432-4391.

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