When you’re ready to buy property, you may see the word easement in real estate descriptions and wonder just what that means. Strictly speaking, an easement is an agreement of use by a non-owner on privately owned land.

For example, there might be a legal agreement that allows members of the public to walk across your property in order to get to a large pond or recreational area. Confused? Don’t worry; here are a few things you need to keep abreast of when it comes to real estate easements:

Know Before You Buy: The seller’s agent should advise any potential buyers about easements agreed upon, like pre-established agreements between neighbors. Know the exact nature of each arrangement in order to know whether it impacts your personal use of the land once you buy it. Most easements involve providing a path for people to get to common play areas or fishponds.

Important Vocabulary:

  • Dominant Estate: Easement holder or the person who benefits from the easement.
    Servient Estate: Property that is burdened by the easement.
  • Express Easement: Easements put into writing.
  • Implied Easement: Not put into writing.
  • Prescriptive Easement: An easement created through use of a property in a certain way over the course of many years that is a well-known use.

Types of Easements:
Easement in Gross: Property Owner A gives the rights to Property Owner B to access a pond on Owner A’s property, and those rights go with Owner B no matter where they end up moving.

Appurtenant Easement:

Property B can get to the main thoroughfare if the owners pass through Property A. Property A is the Dominant estate who is paid for the right of Property B, the Servient estate, to have that access. An example would be a business separated from its parking lot by a private road. The business property is the dominant estate while the private property owner is the servient estate.

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