easement of title abstracting large grey house on well-manicured property

Easement Title Abstracting: What Property Owners Need to Know

When you’re involved in the purchase of a new property, you may run across terms that might as well be written in a foreign language. One such example is “Easement Title Abstracting.” We’re here to familiarize you with the term, so you aren’t lost in the midst of the property purchasing process.

Easements in Real Estate 

Sometimes a title abstract lists the property as having an “easement.” This gives a person or business that doesn’t own the property legal rights to use or have access to another individual’s property. While the owner maintains complete ownership of the dwelling as well as its land, they do not have complete control over who is legally allowed to access and use it. Further, easement title abstracting is important because buying or selling a property might not automatically get rid of any pre-existing easement.

Easement and Encroachment: A Complicated Issue

The word “encroachment” is often confused with “easement.” However, they’re vastly different. While easement is legal, encroachment occurs when a property is used without the owner’s consent and when the using party lacks any legal right to do so. For example, If your client’s neighbor puts up a fence beyond their property line, that’s encroachment.

Another type of easement may occur when causal arrangements are made between neighbors. If your neighbor goes out of town every weekend and allows you to use their driveway on Friday nights, that is considered “unrecorded easement.” Likewise, if you allow your neighbor to put a shed in your yard, this also counts. 

Sometimes the lines between an unrecorded easement and an encroachment might blur. For example, the neighbor who always allows you to park in their driveway on Friday night ends up staying home one weekend. He comes back from work, and his driveway’s filled with a bunch of your friends’ cars. This could classify as encroachment, despite the existing agreement. 

Legal Implications

When people are granted access to property that they neither rent nor own, conflict is more likely to arise. These legal conflicts are known as easement disputes, and they happen frequently. To avoid these situations, have any agreements detailed in a title abstract.

A further legal element that needs to be considered is eminent domain. Generally, this gives the government the ability to force you to sell your property, even if you don’t want to. However, the Fifth Amendment states that it is only for a “public use.” This includes projects such as roads or bridges. Further, they can’t simply take someone’s home. They still must pay the owners what is considered “just compensation” for their property.

When considering an easement, keep in mind that it could have an effect on the property’s value.  Though this typically means it drops, there have been cases of value increasing as a result. This typically happens when that home has an easement with public land making it easier for the owners to access that area. 

Importance of a Good Abstractor

A good abstractor works hard to unearth any easement issues before it’s time for closing. Real Estate Title Services is a trusted local source for commercial, industrial, and residential work. Unlike the other Big Box Abstractors, we have over 60 years’ worth of experience working with:

  • Attorneys
  • Settlement & insurance companies
  • Land surveyors
  • Banks
  • Real estate agents. 

Contact us today to see how we can serve you!