What is an appurtenant easement in real estate?

What is an Appurtenant Easement?

An appurtenant easement is a type of easement in real estate that is tied to the land and benefits the owner of an adjoining or neighboring property, allowing the use of another's land for a specific purpose. This easement is attached to the land and transfers with the property when it is sold, providing a lasting right of use that benefits the adjacent landowner. It is different from an easement in gross, which benefits a specific individual or entity (regardless of land ownership) and does not necessarily transfer with the land.

How is an Appurtenant Easement Typically Used in Real Estate?

An appurtenant easement in real estate is typically used to provide rights such as access to a public road for a landlocked property, shared driveway usage between neighboring properties, or utility services that cross one property to serve another. This type of easement directly benefits the adjacent land and is attached to the property title, transferring with the land when it is sold. Examples of appurtenant easements in real estate include:

  1. Right-of-Way Easements: Allowing a landowner access to their property through a neighbor's land, often used when a property is landlocked and lacks direct access to a public road.
  2. Shared Driveway Easements: When two neighboring properties share a common driveway, each owner has an easement over the other's portion for access.
  3. Utility Easements: Granting a neighboring property the right to lay and maintain utility lines, like water, gas, or electricity, across a property.
  4. Light and Air Easements: Ensuring a property maintains access to light and air, possibly by restricting construction on a neighboring property.

Appurtenant Easement Clause Example

"This Deed of Easement creates an appurtenant easement for the benefit of [Grantee's property description] over [Grantor's property description]. The Grantee and their heirs, successors, and assigns shall have the perpetual right to use [specify the portion of the property] for [specify the purpose, such as access to a road or utility lines]. This easement shall run with the land and is binding upon the Grantor, their heirs, successors, and assigns."

This clause establishes a legal right for one property to utilize a portion of an adjoining property for a specific purpose, with the easement being attached to the property titles and enduring through changes in ownership.

What Rights do Owners Have Under an Appurtenant Easement?

Under an appurtenant easement, the owner of the servient estate (land burdened by the easement) retains ownership and can use their land in any manner that does not interfere with the easement's use. The easement is tied to the land, not the owner, so it typically remains in place through changes in property ownership. The owner of the dominant estate (benefiting from the easement) has the right to use the portion of the servient estate as specified in the easement agreement.

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