In general, an easement is a legal right that allows one party to enter or use property belonging to another party, subject to whatever terms may apply.
Not all easements are built alike, however. Since the two most commonly encountered are easements in gross and easements appurtenant, it’s wise to understand the difference – especially if you’re about to buy property or begin with real estate development.
What’s an easement appurtenant?
This kind of easement is tied to the property and part of its deed, which means that it transfers from owner to owner both when the “dominant” estate (the property that holds the easement) and the “servient” estate (the property that is subject to use through the easement) are sold.
Typically, you see these kinds of easements when a one neighbor has to cross through another neighbor’s property on an access road to reach their home from a main road.
What’s an easement in gross?
These are a bit more complicated because they’re easements that are held (or “attached”) to a specific person or entity. Unlike easements appurtenant, they are not transferable without the permission of the landowner (or “servient estate”).
Commonly, these kinds of easements are created out of necessity and are frequently seen when a utility company or some kind of government agency needs to access the land without worrying about the landowner’s objections. For example, a utility company may need to use an easement in gross to maintain power lines that run through a piece of rural property.
If you’re concerned about an easement taking your land rights away from you or you’re worried how an easement can affect the value of a property in the future, find out more about your legal options.