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Easements and Utility Companies

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

Last Updated 11/5/2019

Homeowners usually have overhead or underground powerlines that run through their property. In such cases, it usually means the utility company has an easement over the property. An easement gives the holder the right to use the property owned by someone else.

This article outlines the rights and obligations of utility companies and homeowners with respect to easements.

How Can a Utility Company Create an Easement?

Creating a utility easement requires you to follow the same procedures as creating or transferring other property interests. This means the easement will usually require a written instrument, delivery, and a valid signature. Utility easements are usually created by conveying a deed, a contract or a will.

Easements can also be created through prescriptive use. Prescriptive easements are created when someone else adversely, and without the permission of the owner, uses the land for a continuous period of time.

Utility easements are usually created at the time the property was designed. You should, therefore, check if there is an easement on your property before you purchase it.

Can You Terminate the Easement on Your Property?

You can terminate your easement in several ways. Some of them include:

  • The utility company abandons the easement with no intention of coming back.
  • The easement contract stipulates an expiration date for the easement.
  • The utility company buys the property.
  • The utility company misuses the easement.

What Can You Do If Someone Is Unlawfully Using Your Property?

If there is an easement on your property, then you cannot interfere with it unless the easement is terminated. For instance, if there is an electric line that runs through your property, you cannot take it down.

If the utility company does not have an easement and is trespassing, you can file a trespass suit. However, you should make sure the utility company does not have an implied easement or an easement by prescriptive use.

In certain situations, you may feel like the utility company is abusing its easement rights. If that is the case, you can either file for an injunction or damages.

In most cases, the abuse of an easement does not result in the easement being extinguished.

Additional Resources

Have Concerns Regarding Your Easement? An Attorney Can Help

Property rights are complicated since there are many state and local laws and regulations you need to comply with. This is especially true with easements as their creation, transfer, and termination process is unique. If you have concerns about your easement or want to know more about the process, you should consider speaking to a real estate attorney.

Next Steps

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

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