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How an easement could change your property rights

On Behalf of | Feb 12, 2021 | Real Estate Litigation

Easements give other people some right to your property. This may seem unfair, but according to SFGate, easements are a fixture in property law, and they prevent a property from becoming worthless due to lack of access.

There are many ways that someone may create an easement, and if you do not control the process, it could result in loss of rights to your own land.

Providing access to another property

If a person or entity on the other side of your property does not have access to a public road except by going across your property, an easement may be necessary. By granting an easement, you can control how and when the neighbor can use your property. Because you are voluntarily allowing the easement, you can put terms and conditions for the use in writing and legally limit your neighbor’s access to the minimum amount necessary.

Allowing use without your knowledge

You may have an easement on your property without knowing it. If the person who owned the property before you divided the land and sold it to you and another person, there may already be a private road in place. Your neighbor could be using the road without either of you knowing that he or she is using your property. If your neighbor’s property is commercial real estate and significant traffic or even heavy equipment crosses your property, it could take a toll on your land. Not only that, if your neighbor takes certain steps, you could lose your rights to control the land.

Becoming a permanent legal easement

A prescriptive easement occurs when your neighbor uses your land continuously for five years without your consent, and a reasonable person would have known that it was happening. A court may then rule that your neighbor’s use is legal, even though you never granted an easement. Thus, you cannot claim your neighbor is trespassing on your land if you decide you do not want the use to continue.

Reviewing your property boundaries on the official description in the deed can help you to see where an implied easement may exist so that you can set your own parameters on its use.