What Happens If You Build On An Easement?

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Easements are a standard legal instrument on many types of land. If you own land and property, it is good to understand if there is an easement on your property.

Usually, you can build on an easement as long as it does not interfere with the easement’s purpose. You should seek permission from the person with the easement to ensure there is no issue with the easement and what the easement is intended. If unsure, you can also seek legal or other professional advice.

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Building On An Easement

If your land has an easement, there is a reason for that easement. So if you’re considering building on an easement, you first need to understand its kind, what it is, and why there is an easement.

An easement is the right of one person to use the land for a specific purpose when it is owned by someone else. If there is an easement on your property, the property is yours, but other people can use it or access it depending upon the easement terms.

Generally, you can build on an easement, but you must be sure of the following:

Building Cannot Interfere With Easement Purpose –

The building you are going to build on the easement cannot interfere with the purpose of the easement. If it does interfere with the easement’s purpose, you probably will not receive permission to build on it.

Need To Seek Permission –

You will probably need to seek permission before building or even digging with an easement. This is especially true with utility easement. For any easement, you should check with the parties concerned that have the easement to make sure you have permission.

If unsure, we suggest you seek legal or other professional advice. The reason is that what you can do on an easement can differ from location to location. And if you invest in building on an easement, you want to ensure that there will be no problems in the future.

Like many things in real estate, there is no straight yes or no answer when it comes to easements and property. This is because so much of the easement property and other laws with real estate can change from state to state and even county to county or city to city.

To understand if you can or cannot build on an easement, you need to understand what the easement entails, who the easement is with, and what authorities you need to talk to get permission to build on the easement.

A person is only able to build on the easement that is on their land. If a neighbor has given you an easement on a path that borders your land, you have no right to build on that path or easement as that is still your neighbor’s land.

If you have granted your neighbor an easement on that same path and want to build a gazebo on the trail or easements, you need to ensure the building will not interfere with the easement purpose.

How Does
An Easement Work?

An easement exists if permission for some activity to occur on your property. It can be granted by a landowner and written and recorded at a county clerk’s office.

Let’s say that Mr. Brown and Miss Taylor live next door. They are terrific neighbors and good friends. Miss Taylor lives right at the edge of a national forest, but for Mr. Brown to access the woods by his house, he has to drive to a public entry point or trespass on Miss Taylor’s land.

Miss Taylor trusts Mr. Brown and knows him. She also knows he’s an avid hiker and jogger who loves to go to the forest daily to go hiking and running. She also understands that driving to the public access point for the woods would take him 20 minutes, but a walk through her land is just 5 minutes.

Miss Taylor gives Mr. Brown an easement, or he can legally go on a path on her property to access the national forest via her land. Miss Taylor goes to the county clerk’s office and gives Mr. Brown an easement to access a path on her property for him to get to the forest.

For an easement to be legal, it should be recorded at the county clerk’s office. The county clerk’s office usually records all deeds, mortgages, and other land ownership instruments.

Usually, this kind of easement would expire after a specific time or event. For example, you may have a neighbor you like and trust, so you give them an easement, but if they die or sell the property, you may state that the easement will expire.

An easement is for another person to use the property for a stated purpose. It does not give them the right to use the property for anything than what the easement says. An easement can include an extensive part of the property or only a particular part, such as a path or a trail.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is an easement, and how does it affect building on my property?

An easement is a legal right that grants someone else access to or use of a portion of your property. Building on an easement can be allowed, but it should not interfere with the purpose of the easement.

Can I build any structure on an easement?

Generally, you can build on an easement as long as the construction doesn’t obstruct or impede the use of the easement by the person or entity benefiting from it.

Do I need permission to build on an easement?

Yes, it’s advisable to seek permission from the person or entity that holds the easement before starting any construction. This helps ensure that your plans won’t interfere with the easement’s purpose.

What if I build on an easement without permission?

Building on an easement without permission can lead to legal disputes. The holder of the easement may have the right to demand removal or modification of the structure.

What are the common types of easements that affect building plans?

Common types include utility easements (for power lines, pipes), right-of-way easements (for access), and drainage easements (for water flow). Each has specific rules about building within them.

Can I get an easement modified for my construction plans?

Modifying an easement may require the consent of the holder of the easement. Legal procedures may be necessary to change or adjust its terms.

How can I find out if there’s an easement on my property?

You can check your property’s title deed, survey maps, or consult a real estate professional to determine if there are any existing easements.

Is it possible to build over an underground utility easement?

Building over underground utility easements may be possible, but it often involves adhering to specific guidelines and obtaining proper permits to ensure the utility’s accessibility and maintenance.

Can You Legally Live In A Commercial Property?

You cannot live in a property that is zoned as a commercial property. Zoning laws in places like the United States are pretty strict. They usually fall under the state and also county and municipality jurisdictions. To legally live in commercial property and to make that property your residence, it should be lawfully zoned as residential property or what is known as a mixed zone property.

By clicking here, you can read more about Can You Legally Live In A Commercial Property?

What Can I Do With A Utility Easement On My Property?

A utility easement gives the utility company full access to your property for the “good of the community.” The Utility company does not need to get permission to enter your property or work on your property. In fact, due to the utility easement, they could cut down trees, dig holes in your garden, or even not allow you to build an underground swimming pool or plant a tree.

By clicking here, you can read more about What Can I Do With A Utility Easement On My Property?

Anita Hummel
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