What is an easement on a property?

What often happens next is the title search, which confirms that the home seller legally owns the property. A clear title means that there are no liens or other claims on the property. Without one, your mortgage lender and insurer will not allow the sale to proceed.One issue that could come up during the title search is an easement. While you will need to do some research about the specific easements on the property, their presence doesn’t mean you can’t ultimately buy the home.

What is an easement?

An easement, by definition, grants another person, entity or business the right to access someone else’s property.

While it may sound strange that someone else can use your property, easements are pretty common. Most properties have easements in place, for example, so that utility companies can access utility lines. In some subdivisions or urban areas where space is tight, an easement may be created for neighbors to share a driveway. In shore towns, there may be an easement to allow neighbors (or even the general public) to use the beach that’s on your property or a path that crosses your property.

What if an easement turns up?

If an easement is found during a title search, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the deal will fall through the way it could if a lien surfaced during the search.

Trouble generally only arises when the easement wasn’t created properly, and/or when it affects access to the home. The latter situation usually involves shared private roads, and specifically who’s responsible for ensuring maintenance of the road. Sometimes, a mortgage lender requires that there be a permanent recorded easement in place; some require a clear road maintenance agreement. If not, many lenders will deny your loan.

Common easement types

Easement appurtenant

An easement appurtenant involves more than one piece of land, such as if you have to access a neighbor’s property to get to a private beach. The easement is tied to the land needed to be accessed. This type of easement stays with the property and is transferred to any owner of that property with the title.