Easement Legal Meaning and Definition

Here is a simplified definition of the legal term Easement.

Easement (noun)

An easement refers to the lawful right granted to an individual or entity to use someone else's real property for a specific purpose. This right does not bestow legal ownership of the land, which remains with the original owner. Examples of common easements include:

  • Access to another property or "right of way"
  • Placement of utility or sewer lines
  • Usage of spring water
  • Making repairs on a fence or a slide area

Easements can be created by a deed (a legal document) that is recorded like any other property interest. Additionally, an easement can emerge from continuous use by the non-owner against the owner over a certain number of years or to ensure fairness, such as giving access to a property that does not have its own access path.

Easements could be described very specifically or somewhat indefinite, depending on the situation. There are also "negative easements" that prevent actions like building structures that block views. Information about existing easements on a property is usually included in title reports and title abstracts. Misunderstandings about easements often lead to legal disputes, which usually involve issues of maintenance, joint use, locks and damage caused to the easement.