Owning a house comes with real estate rights that you don’t get renting. However, these rights are limited and an easement appurtenant is one of the reasons why. An appurtenant easement is a property right that permits the owner to use an adjoining property, with this real estate transferred along with the land.
Once you know what easement appurtenant means, your next question may be about how this type of right-of-way works. Easements themselves are real estate rights that allow you to use someone else’s property for a specific purpose.
These real estate rights confer to the user a nonpossessory interest in another person’s property. What does appurtenant easement mean? How does appurtenant in real estate work? Learn more in this article.
What Does Appurtenant Easement Mean?
Easements are legal rights given to someone to use another party’s property for a specific purpose that goes with the property. On the other hand, an easement appurtenant is a specific type of easement that connects two properties together. Both properties are tied together as servient tenement and dominant tenement estates.
The dominant estate is the one that profits from the easement, whereas the servient estate allows the easement. Both dominant estate and servient estate are common terms associated with easements appurtenant. In simpler terms, the dominant tenement refers to the land of the easement holder, while the servient tenement refers to the land where the easement belongs.
To give you a better illustration, let’s say you bought a parcel of land close to a public beach, parking area, public road, or close to a utility. If your neighbors or other passersby have to regularly take a shortcut through your land to get to their destination, then there’s a high chance that an easement will come into play.
This form of legal privilege is more likely to be granted on a property with limited access to roadways.
What Are the Various Types of Easements Appurtenant?
There are four major ways you can create an appurtenant easement. However, the method depends on the type of property, the easement’s purpose, and whether both parties can reach the easement’s terms amicably. If easements appurtenant ever need to be created, here’s how it is done.
This method is the most common way landowners create an easement. Express easements occur when a neighboring estate buys or sells an easement. This type of easement necessitates writing the agreement down in the form of a will or deed, signed by both parties and registered in a legal document.
This method doesn’t require the appurtenant easement to be written down or documented. The easement is neither written down nor documented because the landowner mainly uses the property for enjoyment.
Here’s an example of how implied easements work. Let’s say you own a huge plot of land close to a public road, and you decide to lease or sell a portion of it. You give a part of the land to the new owner (part A) and keep the other part (part B).
If the land is divided in such a way that you can only access part B of the land by crossing through the person’s land, then it is implied that you can still use the land you sold to access the main road.
The laws governing how a prescriptive easement works vary from state to state. Here, trespassing must be open, hostile, and sustained over time before the trespasser can have the right to claim the easement.
If a neighbor or trespasser regularly crosses your property to get to a public lake, they may have gained an easement to use the land because of how they have gone about taking that route. Furthermore, prescriptive easements may be subject to your due diligence as a landowner to prevent them from occurring in the first place.
Easement By Necessity
An easement by necessity is similar to an implied easement, and it is made out of the law of necessity when two parties can’t reach an agreement. This easement usually comes into play when the only practical route available to access the property is through another party’s property.
However, you can terminate an easement by necessity when there’s a new route or road path.
Appurtenant Easements vs. Easement in Gross
Appurtenant easements are attached to the land and are documented alongside the deed. If a buyer purchases a servient estate, they must permit the dominant estate to continue with the land use. The same rule applies when a buyer purchases a dominant estate.
The key difference between appurtenant easements and easement in gross is the estate owner. In an easement appurtenant, the dominant estate, who holds the right to the land are individuals like your neighbor, while in the easement of gross, groups like services and utility companies are the users of the easement appurtenant.
In summary, in an easement in gross, the easement holder isn’t an individual estate, and the servient estate doesn’t have any power to transfer the easement’s rights.
What to Note When Buying a Home With an Easement
When buying a home, the seller will present you with documents known as disclosures. These disclosures contain everything you need to know about the property and also factors that may negatively affect your stay in your home. On the other hand, the seller is required by law to include any known easements on the property in the disclosures.
Another way of knowing if there’s an easement on a piece of land is to go to a county clerk’s office or a local assessor’s office. The property deed is usually where these types of properties are listed. Furthermore, you don’t have to trouble yourself much just because your home has an easement.
While an easement may be a big deal for some people, note that you can also derive several benefits from the easement as a homeowner. When buying a home with an easement, the best and first thing to do is figure out the easement’s purpose.
Next, make sure you understand how the easement may affect your stay in your home. For example, if you want to install an inground basketball pole and a utility company has an easement to lay underground cables on your land, you may have issues.
However, these issues may not matter much, but note that such an installation will stay on your land, and you have no choice but to deal with it.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can you challenge an easement?
Yes, you can challenge an easement. However, note that the process is a rather long and stressful one, and you might end up going to court. If, on the other hand, the easement has an expiry date, or you can convince the easement holder to terminate the rights to the parcel of land, then the entire process will be a walk in the park.
What does it mean when an appurtenant easement runs with the land?
This term generally means that the right-of-way belongs with or continues with the land. Also, note that the easement will go to anyone that buys the real estate.
What term is common to all easements appurtenant?
All appurtenant easements have two types of tenements: dominant and servient. The dominant tenement refers to the easement holder’s land, while the servient tenement is the property where the easement is held.
Now you know what an easement appurtenant definition is and how it works. One of the smart moves you can make when buying a home is to know if there is an easement appurtenant on the land and how the easement can affect your stay on the property.
Lastly, as a homeowner, you need to fully understand how an easement works and your rights and responsibilities as a homeowner.
Understanding how an easement works can be a bit difficult. However, this rule can work in your favor whether you are buying or just trying to maintain your home. You can contact us today to learn more about buying and managing your desired home.
Kris Reid is the CEO of Ardor SEO, a company that helps real estate professionals get more leads and customers to predictably grow their business.
Over the years, Kris acquired extensive knowledge of SEO and its practical applications in various industries, with the main focus on real estate.
In 2021 Ardor launched the Icons of Real Estate Podcast to share proven strategies from the top producing icon agents with the real estate community.
After obtaining the real estate license in 2022, Kris joined eXp Realty and launched Homes by Ardor, the platform that was built to be the fastest way to buy or sell a house. Homes by Ardor also provides leads for its partner companies and realtors.