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Can Easements Affect the Value of a Property?


You recently purchased a new home or property. Unbeknownst to you, there was an existing easement on your property. What does this mean? How does this easement affect your ownership and the future value of your property?

What Are Easements?

Easements give someone legal power to use land or property owned by someone else, but only for a specific purpose. You still maintain ownership of the property. As an example, a public access road may stretch through your property. The government may have an easement on your property so that the road can be used by the public. Another common example is an easement held by an electricity company. If an electricity company holds an easement on your property, they would be able to access power lines on your property.

Not every easement is the same. In California, there are four different types of easements:

  • Prescriptive easements – A person or entity has used part of a property owned by someone else for an extended amount of time without ever being permitted to do so by the owner.
  • Express easements – A property owner grants use of their property to someone else in a written agreement. The written agreement can stipulate the type of use, or it could plainly state that the other person has the right to use the property.
  • Implied easements – A property or part of the property was previously used by someone else for some time, even though neither the owner nor person/entity using the property had an agreement in place to do so.
  • Easements by necessity – This type of easement is granted to a property owner who needs to access someone else’s property in order to access their own property.

The above types of easements can either be in gross or appurtenant. Easements by necessity can be appurtenant easements because they’re generally tied to the main property for which the right to use is granted, making them transferable. If the property on which the easement is held is sold to someone else, that person would inherit the easement. Easements in gross are attached to the person granted the right to use a privately owned property. This means that if the property is sold, the easement doesn’t transfer, and the new property owner doesn’t have to honor it.

How Does an Easement Affect Your Property Value?

Having an easement on your property doesn’t necessarily affect the value of your property. An easement may not affect your property value directly but could be seen as a benefit or burden when you try to sell the property.

For instance, if the easement on your property requires the grantee (the person who was granted use of the property) to pay to maintain the easement, it could be an incentive for a prospective buyer.

On the other hand, the use of your property could alter the look of your property for the worse, like if a utility company installs large power lines with cables strung all over a major focal point on your property, a prospective buyer could sour at the idea of purchasing the home because it’s such an eyesore.

Additionally, depending on the type, an easement could prevent you or future owners from being able to build on the property or make renovations. This could impact your ability to add value to your property.

Contact the Real Estate Lawyers at Wagner Zemming Christensen, LLP, Today

If you have concerns about an easement on your property, you should consult an attorney. Our experienced Southern California real estate attorneys can discuss this issue with you and inform you of any legal options you may have to address it.

Call us at 951-686-4800 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

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