You have lived on multiple secluded acres in Tyler for many years. The landlocked property behind you recently sold, and the new owners require an easement to access their land. You do not appreciate the increased traffic through your property because of the new neighbors, yet you may not have the legal power to stop them.
Perhaps an electrical company requests the use of part of your property to string power lines. You do not want the tall utility structures blocking your view. Although you own the land, the public nature of the power lines overrides your rights.
An easement gives rights to your property to a private home or business, so that they may access other land. Upon the purchase of your acreage, it must be determined whether your property contains an easement. Doing so, you prepare yourself and avoid future faulty disputes regarding your ownership.
Before purchasing property with an easement or accusing a neighbor of a violation, you must examine the details of your property rights. Two aspects of easements must be considered.
1. Determine the easement type
Easements grant someone the right to use property he or she does not own. The definition of easements implies that the user of the easement owns interest in the portion of property needed. Multiple types of easements exist, so it is important to know the type your situation describes. You may be unable to negotiate easement terms depending on the type.
Two common easements are:
- Easement appurtenant: A necessary agreement that allows access to property using another property. Usually, both parties agree to the details of this easement. Depending on how long the agreement lasts, these easements may be transferred from owner to owner along with the land sold because this easement attaches to the property.
- Easement in gross: An arrangement that stays in effect for the entire period that an entity holds the easement, rather than transferring from owner to owner. Most often, electricity, sewer and gas companies obtain these easements. Those living in homes on property affected by the building of utilities may be without say in the project or use of their own land. In Texas, you violate a state easement by building a pool on top of city electrical wires—even on your own property.
2. Identify the exact property lines
Knowing where your property begins and ends proves to be crucial in understanding your easement agreement. Someone trespassing in an area unspecified by the agreement would be a direct violation of an easement. Determining the exact location and the amount of passage agreed upon helps you determine how the law will apply in court.
The rights to easements, as many variations exist, may be confusing to both owners and users. Before going to court, you must recognize all aspects of your easement agreement. Not doing so may risk time, money and your relationship with your new neighbor.