When you buy a home, it’s only natural to assume you will own the entire property, including the property upon which your house sits. However, this may not always be the case, specifically if your plot of land has an easement attached to it. This could be the cause of legal issues, especially if you’re not aware that such an agreement exists.
Before finalizing a real estate purchase, understand the concept behind an easement and how it can affect your purchase decision.
What is an Easement?
In a nutshell, an easement is the right to use the property of another. Easements are often drafted among owners of adjoining parcels of land, giving one party the right of way on the other’s property. While an easement does not grant any form of ownership, it’s existence can pose legal wrinkles that often catch property buyers off-guard.
As previously noted, an easement primarily grants right of way to a non-owner. For instance, an adjacent home may be set back from the street, so, the developer may have constructed a long driveway that passes through your lot to allow your neighbor access to and from his house. In most instances, such an easement is not an issue, but if you’re particularly sensitive about your privacy, such an agreement may be a deal breaker.
Who’s in Charge of This Again?
Maintenance is another issue that arises from an easement. Since the property is technically yours, but other people are using it, who should be in charge of the shared area? In these cases, it’s best to ask your seller about the current maintenance arrangement, though be forewarned: If the property has passed through multiple owners, the original intentions of the easement may be muddled and might require help from a title search firm around Miami.
You vs. Utility Companies
Easements can also be drafted between landowners and businesses, as is the case when a utility company acquires an easement to install pipes or power lines in a residential area. If you don’t check for such easements, the utility company can one day show up saying they need to dig into your yard for maintenance work and you would have no choice but to let them.
Indeed, an unknown easement can make even a seemingly ideal property a deal breaker. Be sure to check a prospective property’s title and easement agreements to avoid regretting your purchase.
What You Should Know About Easements and Rights-of-Way, Zillow.com