Understanding Easements

When purchasing any property, it is important to look into any easements that may exist. Easements such as right-of-ways can be common in rural areas in particular, and should be carefully explored to ensure they do not negatively affect your enjoyment of the property.

What Are Easements?

An easement is a legal right that is granted by one property owner to someone (usually another property owner nearby) to utilize his/her land for a particular purpose. This term defines a legal arrangement that will likely carry over to new owners when the property changes hands. Easements are sometimes noted in real estate listings, but many do not include mention of them, which is why you should always double-check with your REALTOR® and Lawyer.

How Are Easements Created?

Most easements are created through a binding written document that becomes part of the title to the property. The law prefers easements that are written and consider all practices, habits, and customs related to the property.

Examples

The most common example of a an easement is a simple right-of-way. This may have been created to allow access to an adjoining lot. For example, if a land-locked parcel exists behind your property, and the only way to access it is via your land, a right-of-way may exist to allow access. This is a common arrangement in the Annapolis Valley, where many parcels were created and subdivided in “creative” ways over hundreds of years. Easements of this nature are less common in modern developments, but may still exist. Other types of common easements include water rights (e.g. a shared well) and utility easements (for access to sewer, water or power lines).

Get an Expert Opinion

To find out if there are any easements associated to a given property, and the implications of them, it’s best to hire the services of an expert. Your REALTOR® can obtain preliminary information from the deed and the current property owner(s); however it is best to seek the opinion of a real estate attorney to explain the ramifications in great detail.