What is an easement and why is it important when buying a house?
Imagine this scenario: you are about to purchase a beautiful property right along the ocean, but you discover that in order to get to the beach you need to cross over your neighbor’s property. Is this a major problem and a deal killer? Not necessarily. If there is an easement on the property which will allow you access, then this is a non-issue. An easement is a right acquired by one party to use the land of another party for a reason. The key word is “right” as an easement is not an ownership but a “right”. There are also easements for the air above. An easement can be either appurtenant or in gross.
An easement that grants rights to the owner of an adjacent parcel of land is an easement appurtenant. Therefore, in the scenario above, if there are two neighbors living along the ocean but in order for owner A to get to the ocean they need to use part of the walkway of owner B, then there exists an easement appurtenant. This type of easement only exists when the 2 parcels of land are located next to each other. As a side note, the land that allows access is known as the servient estate while the one that enjoys the access is the dominant estate. An easement “runs with the land” meaning that if the owner of the property were to sell, the easement would still exist.
Another type of easement is an easement in gross. This is a simple right to use the land of another. An example of this could be if the power company uses part of a property to run power lines across it. The major difference is that no adjoining properties are involved.
Of course, it is critical that you do your due diligence when purchasing a property as you should never assume there is or is not an easement. It could be very disappointing if you were to buy a property by the ocean and later find out the only access to the beach is through your neighbor’s property and there in no easement.
For more information, or if you need a referral for a knowledgeable Realtor© in your area, contact:
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
211 South Street
Morristown, NJ 07960
(O) 973-267-8990 x153