What are Easements?

Posted By Jorgensen, Brownell & Pepin, P.C.

18 Apr. 2016

Easements are a non-possessory right to use the land of another for a specific purpose. Easements do not give you a right to own the land, but simply to use the land for a specific purpose. The person or entity using the easement is the dominant estate, and the person or entity allowing the easement is the servient estate.

Unless the easement is specifically limited, it is presumed that it will last forever. Most easements are affirmative (allowing a certain use), but they can be negative (stopping a certain use) such as a restrictive covenant that prevents the servient landowner from building a house other than a single family residence on the property. Easements are intended to meet present and future needs of the dominant estate, unless stated otherwise.

Easements can either be appurtenant or in gross:

  • An appurtenant easement is an easement that benefits a particular parcel of land. For example, if you own property near a lake but need to cross a section of your neighbor’s property to reach the lake, then you may have an appurtenant easement. This type of easement will run with the servient land automatically, as long as the new owner is a bona fide purchaser with actual or constructive notice of the easement.
  • An easement in gross is an easement that benefits a particular person. For example, the servient landowner may grant you a personal right to swim in their pond. This type of easement is not transferrable if it is for personal pleasure, but is transferrable if the easement is for a commercial interest.

There are a variety of ways to create or terminate an easement, depending on the circumstances. For instance, the creation of easements may either be prescriptive, implied, by necessity, or express. Similarly, the termination of easements may either be through stated conditions, merger, release, abandonment, estoppel, prescription, lack of necessity, or condemnation and destruction.

If you have questions about whether you have a valid easement or how to create or terminate an easement, contact our Longmont real estate attorneys today to explore your options.

Categories: Real Estate
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