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Your complete guide to easements on property - featured image
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Your complete guide to easements on property

key takeaways

Key takeaways

Some properties have easements on them, meaning that another party besides the owner has the right to use or access part of it.

Easements are common and are listed on your title, but you may have to do some digging to find out if there is one on your property.

There are different types of easements, and each one may have a different implication for a property owner; some may impact property value.

Doing some research and working with a competent solicitor will help you discover any easements so there are no surprises down the line.

When you buy real estate for the first time, you sometimes come across a bunch of unfamiliar terms.

What's conveyancing?

What's a pre-settlement inspection?

What's a trust account?

And another term that is probably relatively unusual to new developers or investors is "easement".

 

So, in this article, we'll outline what an easement on a property is so that you're not left scratching your head if it ever pops up during your next real estate transaction.

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What is an easement on property?

The legal definition of an easement is the right to cross or otherwise use a portion of someone else’s land.

But what does that mean exactly?

Well, it can mean that you can't build over that portion or easement of land because it's almost like sacred ground.

Now that doesn't mean that your new property is located on an old cemetery or burial ground.

It may mean that a nearby landowner or a utility authority needs access to portions of your land because the easement is land that contains essential services.

They may need to pass through your property to get to their own property or conduct business.

An easement is a legal ability to use someone else's land for a certain purpose.

That's why it's vitally important for small developers to thoroughly understand easements before they purchase a property because it can have an impact on whether the project is still financially viable.

Buyers can usually find the necessary information on the location of any easements on the property title.

What are the different types of easements?

An easement is a right over another person's land for a specific purpose, but what are those purposes?

One example is a carriageway.

This easement is an old term for what is essentially a shared driveway.

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Most commonly these easements prevent the lot without road access from being landlocked.

In most cases, an easement will burden one lot while benefiting another.

If we look at the example of a carriageway, the easement will burden the lot it is over, but benefit the lot that it allows access to.

Examples of different easements include:

  • Right-of-way easement (easement of way) – is where people are allowed to pass through a defined strip of land on the property.
  • An easement for services – is to convey essential services to a community of people. E.g. electrical, gas, water, or telephone lines.
  • Easements of support (pertaining to excavations) – similar to an easement for services but will require excavation works e.g. establishment of drainage pipelines, natural gas lines power, and telephone lines.
  • Easements of “light and air” – this may restrict the construction of walls or buildings in favour of another party's access to light and air (or views in other words).
  • Rights pertaining to artificial waterways and sewerage – this deals with rights and restrictions for waterways, canals or sewerage.

Can I dispute an easement on a property?

When it comes to an easement on property, just as there are many different types, there can be disputes that arise, especially when the easement favours one landowner over the other.

If there are easement disputes, it's recommended that independent legal advice is sought to ensure that each party's rights and obligations are clarified.

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Note: Legislation regarding easements can vary so it's important to source legal advice in the relevant state or territory that the property is located.

In Queensland, for example, to enable the rights of an easement to be enforced, it must be registered on the title of the land burdened and the land that benefits from the easement.

It's also recommended that when a property is being purchased that your conveyancer or lawyer determines whether any easements are registered on the title and, if so, whether there is any impact by the easement on your intended use of the land.

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Note: An easement can only be changed or removed when both parties agree to it.

If no agreement can be reached, the matter can be taken to court for a decision.

Developers must also apply to the relevant government department for permission to have an easement removed or changed. 

Disclaimer:

The information provided in this article is general in nature and does not constitute personal financial advice. The information has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information you should consider the appropriateness of the information with regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs.

About Andrew is a leading finance specialist who holds a Diploma of Financial Planning (Financial Services). With over 32 years of experience in finance, Andrew has been acknowledged by the mortgage industry with multiple awards. Visit IntuitiveFinance.Com.Au
107 comments

Hi Michael, The neighbour owns the property that is the driveway. We use it to access our carport about half way down the driveway.

1 reply

Hi there, we own a property with a shared driveway that goes down one side of our property to the back where the neighbours house is. The neighbour also owns the driveway. When we bought the property the contract states that we have " Free and unre ...Read full version

1 reply

Hello, We have an easement through our rural property to our neighbours land. This land has another easement with another road into the parcel of land, so not landlocked. This property was sold 16 months ago and is now a commercial blueberry opera ...Read full version

1 reply
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