Easements On Your Property: Should You Worry?
Let’s say that you are discussing your upcoming real estate closing with your real estate attorney. He or she mentions terms you’ve heard before—inspections, liens, or title issues. But then your attorney mentions an easement. What is an easement, and could it prevent you from buying or selling the property that you want to close on?
An Easement is Just a Grant of Land Use
In its simplest terms, an easement is a grant of use of your property, that allows other people, or the general public, to access either your property, or to get to another piece of property through yours.
A simple example may be public utilities, like FPL; they often have easements on or through your property so they can access their power lines, or so they can get to power boxes that may service you and your neighbors.
For waterfront properties, there may be a public easement that allows the general public to cross parts of your property, so they can access a dock, or the beach.
Types of Easements
Generally, when the entire public can cross your property that is called a general easement. When there is an easement for one person, class of people, or a company (like FPL), this is called a specific easement.
Easements are often permanent, but can be temporary, such as when a construction company is building something behind you and they need to get through your property to get there while construction is going on.
Note that an easement doesn’t actually transfer ownership of any part of your land to anybody else—you are just granting permission to someone else to temporarily use, or traverse, your property.
Easements at Closing
Because all easements must be in writing and often must be recorded, your real estate attorney will know and be able to tell you, if your property is subject to easements. However, some easements are not recorded, such as those that are created when property is subdivided, or when there is an adverse possession claim.
Sometimes prior owners have agreed to easements with friends or others, and they do not post them in the public records. These kinds of easements can lead to title insurance claims, if they aren’t discovered until after the closing and if they were never recorded.
Should You Buy or Sell Property with Easements?
You can certainly still buy or sell property with easements on it—many properties sell with easements. The question is what kind of easement it is, and if it’s something you are willing to tolerate.
An easement for the county to access the canal behind you every now and then may be no big deal. An easement that allows floods of people to walk on your property to get to a dock or water, may be a bigger deal.
Do you have a question about buying or selling a home? Make sure you have a Tampa real estate transaction attorney. Contact Gilbert Garcia Group, P.A.