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How do easements work in real estate matters?

An easement is generally described as a nonpossessory interest in another person's land usually stemming from a want or need to use someone else's land for which the other person does not have ownership. Basically, an easement allows the holder to use the property, but prevents them from excluding others from the land.

Because of the nature of an easement-and its rare use-most people do not have a clear understanding of what they are or what they can do for landowners who may find themselves in certain types of land disputes.

Let's say for example that you own property next to another person, but the only way to get to your property is to use a driveway located on your neighbor's property. By allowing you to use the road, your neighbor is granting you an easement.

Generally, easements are created by the conveyance of a deed, or by other documents such as a will or contract. In rare cases, a court will draft one based on specific circumstances surrounding the land.

As a general rule of thumb, the easement holder has the right to do "whatever is reasonably convenient or necessary in order to enjoy fully the purposes for which the easement was granted," without putting burden on the land owner. The same is true visa versa; the landowner must make their land available without interfering with the terms of the easement.

Although this may seem straight forward, there are several different types of easements that are all governed by certain situations and have different rules as well. And as we said before, because they aren't used as frequently, they can create confusion and legal disputes that must be handled by a real estate attorney with the knowledge necessary to help both parties reach an agreement regarding land use.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Easement Basics"

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