Law Office of Tom Murphy

What real estate buyers should know about easements

| Jan 19, 2021

If you buy land with an easement, a third party has the right to use part of the property. The terms of the easement influence the land value and may infringe on your own intended use.

Review these important considerations about Texas easements when looking for residential or commercial property to purchase.

Types of easement rights

Various types of easement rights affect the property in different ways. The city may establish utility easements to run sewer lines, pipelines, cable, electricity and other utilities. In rural areas, landowners may have agreements to cross one another’s property for access purposes. This arrangement commonly occurs in regions with few public roads. This constitutes an easement by necessity.

Some properties have an existing prescriptive easement. This occurs when a person who does not own the property has openly used a portion of it for at least 10 years without issue.

Validity of easements

A title search on the property will reveal existing easements. Review the terms of these easements carefully before committing to the deal. You should be clear about the allowed use and the exact location of the easement. This may require a professional survey of the property.

If the local government has an easement on file, the landowner usually can’t revoke these property rights even when they date to a previous owner. Some so-called easements may actually be license agreements to use the land, which are usually time-limited.

Issues surrounding public and private easements become complicated quickly. For example, a prescriptive easement may exist without official documentation. Conduct thorough due diligence when buying a property with an easement to help prevent future headaches.