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Easements and Transfer of Land

When land is transferred -- by purchase, lease, or otherwise -- one issue that should be kept in mind is that of easements that may (or may not) be tied to the land.

Easement Appurtenant

When the title is transferred, the easement typically remains with the property. This case is known as an easement appurtenant. This type of easement "runs with the land," which means that if the property is bought or sold, it is bought or sold with the easement in place. The easement essentially becomes part of the legal description.

If a parcel of property with an easement across it is sub-divided into smaller lots and sold to different people, and the geography is such that each of the smaller lots can benefit from the easement, then each will usually be permitted to use the easement.

Easement in Gross

Traditionally, easements in gross were easements that could not be transferred and were not tied to a particular piece of land. A person could grant an easement across a residence to a neighbor, but this type of easement would not continue if the neighbor (holder of the easement rights) sold the property. Today, courts typically refer to these types of easements as "personal" easements. Nevertheless, an easement that began as personal may be transferable, particularly if it is a commercial easement, such as a utility easement.

Next Steps

Contact a qualified real estate to help you navigate land use issues including zoning, easements and eminent domain.

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