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How can easements affect real estate in California?

On Behalf of | Mar 24, 2024 | Real Estate Law |

Have you ever wondered why a utility line cuts through a seemingly random portion of someone’s backyard or why a neighbor has a designated path leading to their property across another’s land? These are likely instances involving easements.

Easements are legal agreements that impact how real estate is used and enjoyed. If you’re a real estate owner – or an aspiring one – in The Golden State, it can help to explore what they are and how they affect property rights and value.

What exactly is an easement?

An easement grants a specific right to use a portion of someone else’s property for a limited purpose. It’s important to understand that the easement holder doesn’t own the land; they simply have the legal right to access or use it in a particular way. Common examples of easements in California include:

  • Easement of access: This grants permission to enter or leave a property by crossing another’s land.
  • Utility easements: These allow utility companies to install and maintain lines for electricity, water, gas, etc.
  • Drainage easements: These help to ensure proper drainage of water across neighboring properties.

Easements can be created in several ways, such as through written agreements between landowners, by implication if historically used in a certain way or even by court order in specific situations.

How do easements affect property rights and value?

Easements introduce complexities to property ownership. The landowner with the easement (the beneficiary) has specific rights to use the burdened property (the one with the easement). However, these rights are limited to the scope of the easement itself.

For the property owners burdened by the easement, there are restrictions on how they can use the affected area. They cannot take any actions that would hinder the easement holder’s designated use.

Understanding easements and their implications can enable you to make informed decisions when buying, selling or developing real estate properties. Keep in mind as well that a real estate professional and a reliable legal team can provide valuable insights on how an easement might affect your property rights and potential transactions.