Complications of Buying and Selling Property with Easements

Whether you are buying or selling real estate, it is important to determine whether any easements encumber the property, and, if there are, what effect the easements will have on the deal.

First, an easement is generally defined as a right to cross or use someone else’s land for a specified purpose. For example, your neighbor may have a small easement over your land to access the closest main road. The easement does not allow your neighbor to occupy the land, but your neighbor can stop other people from using your land (including you) if it interferes with his or her access to the main road. You still have every right, as the property owner, to use that land too.

So now the question becomes, if you are moving and selling the property, what happens to that easement? Will your neighbor be out of luck and unable to access the main road?

As a seller, you need to tell potential buyers about the easement. When the property sells, the easement has to be incorporated in the deed and all other legal documents. The seller also has to tell the easement holder, in our example the neighbor, that the property is being sold.

Easements need to be publicly recorded in the County Recorder’s Officer (or similar government agency) so that they show up on a title search.

Once a real estate buyer is informed about an easement, he or she should obtain a copy of the recorded easement and contact the easement holder and see what, if any, limitations exist with respect to the easement, or put another way, exactly how the easement affects the property.  For example, does the easement exist indefinitely, or does it cease when the land is divided or sold?

These important issues are best to work out beforehand with all parties involved to avoid future litigation over the use and enjoyment of the property and the easement.

If you have any questions about easements or real estate transactions, contact an experienced attorney. Ezer Williamson Law provides a wide range of both transactional and litigation services to individuals and businesses. We have successfully prosecuted and defended various types of business and property claims. Contact us at (310) 277-7747 to see how we can help you with your business law concerns.

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