Understanding easements

California homeowners or buyers should always take care to learn of any easements on their properties or those properties they may buy.

Anyone who has ever bought or sold a piece of property in California may be familiar with the term "easement". However, it is very possible that many people who think they know what easements are may not be fully correct. An easement is not just one thing. There are different types of easements. Understanding these is important for anyone involved in real estate in northern California.

Who is involved in an easement?

As explained by Realtor.com, easements are some form of agreement between a property owner and another person or entity with no ownership in the property. Some easements are able to be cancelled but others may not. The type and reason for the easement will play a part in determining this.

Does an easement grant ownership?

According to SFGate, easements have nothing to do with providing any form of ownership to a non-owning party. Easements simply mandate some form of legal use of a piece of property.

Do easements always provide use of land to a non-owner?

An affirmative or positive easement does grant some form of use to a non-owner. However, this is not the only type of easement. An easement may be considered a negative easement as well. This form of agreement prevents an owner from doing something on the property which may have a particular impact on another property or owner.

An example of this would be an easement that prevents an owner from building a second story on a house if that second story would block a desired view enjoyed by owners of another property. In short, easements can stipulate what can be done as well as what cannot be done.

What is an easement of right of way?

A right of way easement is perhaps the most commonly known form of easements. As its name implies, it allows non-owning parties to use a portion of a property for access to something else. A good example of this a path between two homes that leads to a public park or recreation area.

Do easements transfer when a property is sold?

Some easements can transfer with the sale of a property. Other easements may become void after a certain number of years or even upon the death of a particular owner. In the latter case, a sale after such a death may not necessarily involve the continuation of an easement.

How should an easement be approached?

Early on in a real estate transaction, California property buyers and sellers should contact a lawyer for help in getting the facts about any easements on a particular property. This can help avoid last-minute complications with a transaction by learning about these things up front.