Easements: What You Should Know Before You Buy

Easements: What You Should Know Before You BuyBefore signing a real estate purchase agreement, it is important to find out if an easement exists on a property so you have an understanding of the impact it may have on the use of the home or property. An experienced real estate lawyer can help you understand the different types of easements and advise you on how they may affect your property.

What Is An Easement?

Sometimes referred to as right-of-way, an affirmative easement is a property right that gives the easement holder an interest in land that is owned by someone else. Negative easements usually place restrictions on what can be done on nearby property, such as putting height limits on a building to preserve a view. A Pennsylvania easement is typcially created by written and signed agreement or by a deed or grant of easement.

Easement in Gross

An easement in gross is attached to an owner of a property; not the land itself. For example, if you have an easement in gross with your neighbor that allows you to pass through their yard, that easement could be revoked if the neighbor sells their property. If you’re considering buying a house, it is vital to find out if it has an easement in gross, as they are typically non-transferrable. However, the transfer of easements in gross for commercial uses such as electrical lines and railroads is often permitted.

Easement by Necessity

These types of easements are ‘appurtenant,’ which means that they benefit a specific property, not an individual person. Easements by necessity are typically used to provide access to a landlocked piece of property when a landowner divides a parcel of land and a portion of it no longer has access to a public street. If you’re purchasing property to build a home on land that has been split up by an owner, seeking the counsel of a West Chester real estate attorney will ensure that any necessary easements are properly addressed.

Easement by Prescription

An easement by prescription falls under the legal concept of “adverse possession”.  It allows a person to gain use or ownership rights to another’s property if they have openly and continuously used the land for a certain amount of years. Easements by prescription often happen when rural landowners fail to realize that a fence has been erected or part of their land has been used by a neighbor for many years.

Easement by Estoppel

When a landowner misrepresents the existence of an easement when selling a property, the courts can step in and create an easement. If the court determines that the buyer acted reasonably and relied on what the seller promised, the court can create an easement by estoppel. Having contract attorneys thoroughly review all documents surrounding a real estate transaction can help you avoid having to deal with the hassle of getting an easement down the road.

At Carosella & Associates, our Pennsylvania real estate lawyers protect your interests and assist you with your real estate transaction from start to finish.