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At some point, you might come across the terms “easement” and “right of way.” These terms both imply another person or entity may have use of your property. As a homeowner or buyer in the market for a home, you’ll want to thoroughly understand both of these terms and how they can potentially affect you.
What is an Easement?
An easement enables one person to use another’s property for a stated purpose. This could be a public use, such as water, electric or gas utility companies, or for a private one as an agreement between neighbors. There are three primary types of easements:
None of these forms of easements grant any type of ownership to the individuals using the easement rights.
What Does Right of Way Mean?
Right of way is a type of easement, but it works a little differently. What this term means is other people are allowed to pass through your property. The right of way may be a public or private option. For instance, if your neighbor’s house is located behind yours and has no way to reach the main road unless they pass through your property, this would be a private right of way. On the other hand, if a road passes through your property to access a beach, park or other public space, this would be considered to be a public right of way. The right of way has no effect on ownership.
Can Easements Be Terminated?
Some types of easements can be terminated after a specified period of time, however, easements attached to a deed often remain that way in perpetuity, even if the property changes hands. Here are two ways easements can be in placed into effect:
Both easements and right of way can grant others to rightfully use your property. Whether you are selling or buying a home, it’s always important to know if an easement is attached to the deed. If an easement isn’t found on the home’s deed, it’s a good idea to also check public records. Easement stipulations are a complex topic. An established easement could limit what you can do with your property in the future, so always be sure to check before purchasing any property.