A real estate agent asks me “what’s an easement?” I thought to myself, that if someone that’s been in real estate for 1 year and doesn’t know, what’s the chance of a home owner or home buyer knowing? Well let’s discuss it…Simply put, an easement is the right someone has to someone else’s real property.
Picture 9 tiny squares inside of one big square…if you’re picturing it correctly, picture the lonely square in the middle. Let’s pretend each of those 9 squares has a home on it except for the middle square, let’s also pretend that the middle square is just a vacant piece of land. Now, stay with me because I’m going somewhere with this.
One day I got a call from an owner that owned a piece of land that was “landlocked” because like our example, there were 8 homes around his land. Why was he landlocked? Well because he didn’t have an “easement” to his property. When he asked me what I thought about his lands worth, I told him “I don’t think much”. Basically his land was worthless due to the fact that he could never build on it because he couldn’t access it.
So do all homeowners have easements? The blanket answer is yes, most properties have easements recorded on the title of the property. For example, a popular one is one favoring the utility companies. SDGE for example, they need a right to enter your property to check their meters and run their lines, that’s an easement.
Going back to my example with Bob the owner, what could he have done? He could have gone to one of his neighbors and begged to grant him an easement, if that failed then Bob should have tried negotiating with his neighbors by offering them some money in exchange for an easement.
BE AWARE!!! You can non-intentionally give someone an easement without wanting to. There’s something called an easement by prescription. This is when someone uses a piece of your land for a period of 5 years or more time and time again. If you allow your neighbor to walk through a piece of your yard to get to the alley, then by you not putting a stop to it over a 5 year period of time, your actually giving them whether you know it or not, an easement! Be careful out there and best of luck!