What is an easement?

By Jedidiah McKeehan

You may have heard of the legal term “easement” and may even know that it is a term related to property.  However, you may not know exactly what this term means.

An easement is the ability and right to legally use and travel on someone else’s property without actually owning that property.

Let me give you some common examples.  A government entity may buy an easement on someone’s property so that they can build a sidewalk along the front of someone’s property.  You still own the property on which the sidewalk is placed, and the government may have even paid you so that you would allow them to install a sidewalk, however, if the government has an easement, they are allowed to use that sidewalk and they probably purchased the right for the general public to use the sidewalk as well.

Another common easement is for power lines for utility companies.  Utility companies need to run their power lines across the countryside somehow, so they will buy an easement from property owners in order to allow them to do so.

Easements can run for varying lengths of times.  They can last “in perpetuity,” meaning without end, or it can be for a set period of time, like 20 years, or 50 years.

To bring it full circle though, an easement is a right to use property without actually owning that property.

Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit attorney-knoxville.com for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.

 

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