Property boundary disputes often involve easements, which are non-possessory interests in land that allow the holder to have access to or use the property of someone else. This is often put into place for a specific purpose or limited period of time. While land easements are common, many people lack a clear understanding of how easements function, what benefits are conferred to the beneficiary of an easement, when an easement would be beneficial, and what to do when there is a dispute involving real estate.
The real estate lawyers at RKPT have been representing residential and commercial clients in real estate matters for more than 50 years. We have built a reputation for professionalism, and frequently work with buyers, sellers, developers, and lenders in real estate transactions and disputes.
What Is an Easement?
An easement refers to the legal right to use someone else’s land, often for a specific purpose or a specific amount of time. A property easement gives a person the right to go onto or through another person’s land, so long as the use is consistent with the terms of the easement. When this is granted, the landowner retains title to the property but gives someone else an interest in the land for a specific purpose.
An easement usually involves two pieces of land: the dominant estate and the servient estate. The owner of the dominant estate receives the benefit of being able to use a portion of the servient estate based on the terms of the easement.
Easements are commonly given to neighbors, government entities, or private parties. Examples include a property owner allowing a neighbor to use a path on their land, or for public utilities, power lines, or cable TV.
How Do You Know if Your Property Has Any Easements?
The best way to determine whether there are easements on your land is to purchase a title exam from an attorney or title agency. A title examiner or attorney can search the public records associated with your property at the County’s Recorder’s Office and provide an exam that identifies if any easements exist.
Are There Different Kinds of Easements?
Ohio recognizes different kinds of easements for different purposes.
A prescriptive easement is gained through adverse possession, which occurs when a person uses land or property openly, continuously, and for a specified amount of time.
An easement by necessity is created by the law to achieve just results, such as when a piece of land is landlocked and can only be accessed by traveling over someone else’s land.
How Do You Create an Easement?
Easements are often negotiated as part of a real estate contract, but landowners can negotiate the terms of an easement at any time.
When negotiating, it is important to specify the scope of the easement.
You will also need to determine a price for the easement. The cost will depend on the nature of the agreement and the length of time it will last.
Finally, be sure to get the agreement in writing, have it signed by all parties involved, and have the document notarized. Once it is finalized, it can be filed with the appropriate County Recorder’s office.
Do You Need a Lawyer?
While these may sound like simple agreements, there are complex rules that can make them difficult to understand and even harder to resolve. Drafting an Easement or resolving a dispute about an easement can be an expensive and time-consuming process. Before entering into an easement agreement, it is wise to consult with an experienced real estate attorney to ensure that you understand your rights and obligations under the easement, and to have the document properly prepared and filed with the appropriate government entity.
If you are already involved in a dispute about an easement, a real estate lawyer can review the dispute and recommend how to proceed. A real estate lawyer can also represent you during real estate negotiations and at trial, if necessary.
If you have questions or need assistance with easements, the lawyers at RKPT can help. Learn more about our real estate services, and contact us today for more information. With offices in Cincinnati, we represent clients throughout Ohio.