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Easement Rights

Easements are rights given to an individual or entity for the use of land that belongs to someone else for a specific use. A few examples would be; utility poles, sewer lines, and shared driveways or paths. An easement can be recorded in the land deed, making the easement a permanent access point for its selective purpose. The land owner of the easement cannot obstruct the easement or deny access by the easement holder. To learn more about easements and easement rights, take a look at the questions below that have been answered by experts.

A developer wants an easement through my property to install a sewer line from a proposed subdivision. What is the negative impact of such an easement and what compensation I should expect?

Before you agree to allow the easement, you should have the developer make arrangements for two appraisals of the land and have him/her pay for them. One of the appraisals will be performed by an appraiser of your choice (paid by the developer) and the developer will hire an appraiser of his/her choice. By doing this, you will be able to find an agreeable amount between the two appraisals.

As far as payment goes, you can either ask for the full amount up front in one payment of request monthly payments. Once you agree on the amount, you will need to add the easement to your deed with the notice of transfer. This will allow the easement to remain if you ever sell your property.

Unless you are well versed in the legal terms of easements, you may want to consider hiring an attorney to assist you. The attorney fees or a portion of the fees should be paid by the developer.

The negative impacts would entail a portion of your property being utilized by the developer. On occasion, there may be the need of repairs to the sewer lines which would include excavation (digging the lines up). This may cause a temporary eyesore on the property. However, the money you will make from the easement should be enough compensation for the trouble.

My neighbor has a 25 foot easement on the property next to mine and their driveway is on my property. They moved to the property in 1994, but the easement is older than 1994. What can I do?

You need to do something before they gain a prescriptive easement by using it without your intervention. If you allow the neighbor to continue using your property for an extended amount of time without objecting, eventually, this will become the neighbors permanent right of use. In order for the neighbor to claim an easement by prescription, they would have to show that they have used the property for at least 20 years without any interruption or objections from the land owner (you). This is specified in the laws as followed: Pevear v. Hunt, 924 S.W.2d 114 (Tenn.Ct.App.1996); House v. Close, 346 S.W.2d 445 (Tenn.Ct.App.1961); Nashville Trust Co. v. Evans, 206 S.W.2d 911 (Tenn.Ct.App.1948) To avoid the easement from becoming permanent, you need to draft an agreement stating the use is permissive and have them sign it. Once both of you have signed the agreement, have it recorded. If you need help drafting the agreement, you can ask a real estate attorney to assist you.

I have a sanitary sewer easement running through my backyard and I want to build a deck that will run over top of it. Can I do this?

By law, you are the easement grantor and you have the right to maintain the easement. However, you cannot do anything that will interfere with the rights of the easement holder. This means, yes, you can build your deck but the city can have the deck removed. Furthermore, the city can deny your permit if they think the deck will disrupt their easement rights. If this happens, you will have to approach the planning department and ask for an appeal for the permit. If you attempt to force the city, you may end up in a nasty court battle which will far outweigh the cost of your deck. To avoid a messy court battle, simply apply for the permit and if the city allows it, you can build your deck.

When an easement is granted (in perpetuity) does the user have right to maintain the easement?

While an easement allows the easement holder to use the property, the main ownership belongs to the grantor (original owner). The easement is used to access another property, sewer lines, make repairs to fencing etc. if the easement has stipulations that you maintain the easement as part of the agreement, then you could. However, you would only be expected to return the area to its original condition. Upgrading the easement such as paving a gravel drive or path would be considered an unrealistic improvement as far as maintaining is concerned.

When dealing with an easement, it is important to know your rights. Many people go years without knowing an easement may exist on their property. It is important to understand how an easement works and where you stand from a legal view. If you have questions about easements, you should ask an Expert.
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Recent Easement Questions

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  • This is for Dwayne B please. I know that having an easement

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