How Can an Easement Affect Me?

Filed under: Real Estate Law

If you’re in the market to purchase real estate, you may come across a property which is affected by an easement and wonder whether you should proceed with purchasing it. You may be a current home owner whose neighbors have easement rights over your property, or you over theirs. In any case, it is important to understand easements and how they can – and may not – affect your rights. In some cases you may need to consult with a real estate attorney for help with a complicated situation. With offices in Temecula, San Diego and Irvine, we can help.

An easement is an interest in a particular piece of property which gives the holder of the easement the right to use the property in some way. An easement often pertains to issues such as a shared driveway or a particularly desirable view. The easement clearly states the particular “use” of the property which is granted, and does not grant the holder of the easement any other use of the property. Some easements are permanent, while others are temporary and governed by specific dates only.

Almost every property has multiple easements, typically for water or utility access. It’s important to remember that an easement does not give the holder any rights to possess the property, nor do they have any financial interest in it. If it is a neighbor who holds an easement pertaining to your property, they cannot prevent you from selling it or from benefit financially from its sale.

In some cases an easement limits what you can do with your own property. For example, the neighbor across the street from you may hold a “light and air” easement on your property. This could mean that they enjoy a particular view of the mountains behind your house and so you cannot make alterations to your property which would block their view.

Before purchasing real estate, always check to see if any easements exist which could affect your usage or enjoying of the property. Some people may be bothered by items such as a shared driveway, or if you intend to alter the property you may end up frustrated and unable to complete your plans. In many cases, however, an easement places no bothersome restrictions on the homeowner and they never have a problem with it. As mentioned previously, almost every home has multiple easements that have no practical effect on the owners.

Occasionally an easement can pose a problem to property owners, however. We can help if someone attempts to place an easement on your home, if you purchase a home and later discover an undisclosed easement, if a neighbor begins to violate the terms of an easement, or if you and your neighbor need an easement to accomplish some purpose. Most easements are there for a valid purpose, and we can assist you to understand and manage the easements affecting your property.

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