In the earlier series on real estate closing, Wynn at Law, LLC mentioned easements. In fact, we bring up the topic every time we review a title or write an article about one. The reason is simple, just like the old proverb that good fences make good neighbors: Clearly defined easements keep property owners out of court.
An easement on a property allows a landowner to grant access to a part of his or her property. You grant access without giving up ownership of that part of the property. It’s a binding agreement. Where we see this commonly throughout southeast Wisconsin is allowing access to a walking path, a driveway, a community pier, or a utility line crossing the property. Without an easement in place for access to such things, anyone attempting to access the path, pier, driveway or utility pole would be trespassing on the property. You can see the legal ramifications.
That means: Talk to your attorney anytime the word comes up. Here are a few spots in which the topic may come up.
If you are buying a property
Two easement issues Wynn at Law, LLC sees frequently are easements for driveways and for lake rights or lake access. When there are disputes over the area of the easement, or the size or the situations for which the property can be used, it can sour a neighborhood. Nobody wants to be ‘that neighbor,’ especially when you’re new to the neighborhood. By the way, if a lender is involved, the lender may take issues with driveway easements. Driveway easements require you to have legal access to your property. Imagine the difficulty clearing up the easement specifics after the closing.
If you are selling a property
When you know of an easement exists, you should disclose that to potential buyers on the real estate condition report. If you do not have a written easement in place or it is not recorded with the Register of Deeds Office, Wynn at Law, LLC can assist you in drafting and recording the easement.
Your relationship with your neighbors is the important aspect of easements. It is important to have a lawyer review easements on your property because it is your property.