What is an Easement?

An Easement gives one person the right to go onto another person's property. There are essentially two different type of easements: Easement in Gross and an Appurtenant Easement.

Easement in Gross
Easements in gross are personal rights given to individuals or specific groups. When the owner of the easement dies the easement automatically terminates.

Appurtenant Easement
Appurtenant easements are more permanent and are given to both the property and its owner. If the property and easement owner sells the property the appurtenant easement is transferred to the new owner with the same legal rights to the easement as the original easement owner. To be a legal appurtenant easement, the properties involved must be adjacent to each other and must be owned by separate entities.

Exclusive Easement
An exclusive easement identifies specific parties who may have access to the easement.

Non-Exclusive Easement
A non-exclusive easement does not specify any specific parties.

Access and Egress
Easements of Access and Egress may be obtained for access to a piece of property. These easements may include access to water sources, to make repairs on a fence, to herd animals across and other for other reasons. The easement is a real property interest, but separate from the legal title of the owner of the underlying land.

Driveway Easement
A driveway easement allows the person who is the beneficiary of the easement to cross the "servient" property. The land which receives the benefit of the easement is called the "dominant" property or estate. A driveway easement may be created by recording a deed that states that one neighbor owns the driveway to the halfway point, but has an easement or right of way to use the remainder; however, the adjoining home owns the other half of the driveway, with a right-of-way with respect to the portion the neighbor owns.

Easement by Prescription
An easement may be claimed by prescription for the use of the driveway. This requires proof that your neighbor willingly abandoned his use of the driveway during the adverse period when you and your predecessor in title enjoyed the exclusive use of the driveway.

Easements should describe the extent of the use, as well as the easement location and boundaries.

Easements can be created (1) by deed, (2) by prescription (i.e. hostile, notorious, open, exclusive and continuous use) for a statutory number of years, or (3) out of necessity, (e.g. giving access to a "land-locked" piece of property).
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