You’ve found the perfect piece of property, and you’re ready to buy. Then you learn that the property has an easement attached.
An easement gives someone other than the property owner the legal right to use that property for a specific purpose, regardless of anyone’s objections. Before you buy any property with an easement attached, you need to learn whether it’s an easement appurtenant or an easement in gross.
What’s the difference between them?
Easements appurtenant are commonly said to “run with the land.” In other words, they are part of the title and an obligation that is passed from owner to owner. An easement in gross is generally not recorded on the title and ends when the ownership of the property changes hands or the person who holds the easement dies.
For example, if a property owner tells their neighbor that they are welcome to forage for herbs on their forested lot so long as they own that property, that’s an easement in gross. On the other hand, if a deed states that neighbors can cross the back of the lot in order to access some local trails, that’s probably an easement appurtenant.
Finding out that a piece of property in which you’re interested has an easement attached can be concerning. It may even be enough to put you off the purchase since it can limit the ways in which you can use your own land. Understanding more about the difference between one kind of easement and another can help you make informed decisions.