An easement is a right to use real property
owned by somebody else, such as the right to cross another’s property, or to restrain the owner’s usage of the real property
. An easement may be either appurtenant, meaning the easement runs with the dominant tenement (the land that holds the right to use the easement on the other property), or in gross, meaning it belongs to a specific person. Easements are often created by contract but can be created by law due to public policy.
Common Easement Issues
Common types of easements include rights of way and utility easements. Issues that arise with easements include misunderstandings by the new owners of a burdened property which do not want to recognize an already existing easement, the failure of an easement holder to properly maintain the pathway it uses to cross the burdened property when contractually obligated to do so and problems that arise due to a failure to properly record an easement.
Handling Easement Disputes
Since easements are generally created by contract, the easement documents and the manner and location of recording are the first issue to look at. Once the parties understand their legal rights, it is likely that a negotiated resolution can be reached. When this is not possible, litigation becomes necessary to determine the rights of the parties.