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Does your new property purchase have an easement issue?

An easement involves someone having the right to use land that doesn't belong to them, usually because using the land is a necessary and functional requirement. One of the most common reasons for an easement in residential situations is that one landholder must be able to cross another landowner's property to reach his or her home. In such a case, the first person has an easement right to use a road on the other person's property.

When purchasing a new business or commercial property, buyers should always find out about any easement issues related to their land. Easements can impact how you access or use the property, and they could impact any development or use plans you might have.

If you are buying a property that is burdened by an easement -- which means someone else has a right to use your property because of an easement -- you are buying what is called a servient estate. As long as the easement exists, you cannot legally bar the other property owner from using your property as allowed in the easement. You can, however, bar other people from using it.

If you are buying a property that is to be benefited by an easement -- that is, you have a right to someone else's property by way of a road or other use -- then you are buying a dominant estate. In many cases, you need to carefully consider the property in question and whether you'll need to work out an easement with neighboring landowners to support your use of your own property. If you are facing an easement dispute or are overwhelmed by entire transaction process, work with an experienced real estate lawyer to ensure all the details are handled.

Source: FindLaw, "Easement Basics," accessed March 31, 2017

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