An easement is a right that a person or entity has in the property of another person or entity. In other words, it is a right to use someone else’s property without owning that property. There are many different kinds of easements that exist for many different reasons.

For example, Utility Companies have “easements in gross” over all properties to service the utilities. If a utility, such as electricity, has a problem in the line that runs on your property, it is going to affect a large amount of people. The utility company has the right to enter onto your property to service the utility.

Private individuals can have easements too. For example, if you owned a rural property that was completely “land locked” meaning it had no road access, you would be granted an easement over one of the other properties for ingress and egress. This would would allow you to access the adjoining property to reach roads.

Who are the Parties Involved in an Easement?

  • Dominant Tenement – the person or entity who has the rights over the others property. In the examples above, the utility company and the land locked owner who has ingress and egress rights over the other property owner. Bob has dominant tenement over Kevin.
  • Servient Tenement – the person or entity who owns the property over which someone else has rights. In the examples above, all the property owners with utility lines on their property or the owner of the land adjacent to the road who has to allow the neighbor to enter and leave their property. Kevin has servient tenement under Bob.

Easements should be recorded to be enforced, so make sure you check title to see if there are any easements. Your real estate broker or escrow officer can pull a title report for you to review. An easement is not necessarily a bad thing, just make sure you are aware of it before making a purchase decision.

➡️ Chapter 15: What is a real estate appraisal?