Property owners provide easements to extend non-possessory land rights. If you receive an easement, you have a limited right to use the land. For instance, if you own land that has no access to local roads, an easement might allow you to legally cross through your neighbor's land. You would not own your neighbor's land, but you could use a portion of it.
Each state maintains different rules and interpretations about easements, which are subject to change. Property owners generally can issue affirmative or negative easements. If you hold an affirmative easement, then you can perform an act or enter the land like to install a pipe that travels through your neighbor's property. Negative easements block or prohibit certain actions, such as an easement of view that prevents a neighbor from obstructing the view from your property.
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Easements can be established in several ways, such as through contracts, wills or deeds. To satisfy Statute of Frauds requirements for contracts, easements must identify the grantor and grantee, be in writing, signed by the grantor, describe the relevant land (e.g., property on 123 Anywhere street), and demonstrate the intended purpose.
Easements also can be created by necessity. Most easements by necessity involve landlocked properties. If your property has no access to public roads, you can obtain an easement. The grantor usually has the right to determine the extent of the easement, such as to establish a limited pathway.
Easements are not permanent. An easement might explicitly highlight terms about termination, such as within five years. As a grantee, your easement might end by abandonment if you fail to use it. Easements also can end because of misuse. For example, if you were granted an easement to travel through land but instead use the land to store your possessions, the grantor can get an injunction to stop the misuse or terminate the easement.
A government agency can obtain an easement under the principle of eminent domain. For instance, an easement can allow a county to develop a public highway or park across certain land. Conservation easements aim to protect land by restricting development.