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Why do I need an easement to access my own property?

7/1/2016 | Real Estate Blog

First-time homeowners and those breaking into the world of real estate are often surprised to learn that they do not necessarily own every bit of the land they are purchasing. Easements allow individuals and even companies to reasonably use part of another person’s land. Initially, this might seem counterintuitive or even inconvenient, but in most cases the request for an easement is actually quite reasonable.

Homeowners in Pennsylvania often first become aware of easements when purchasing or building a home that is either set far away from the road or that requires a lengthy driveway. While houses such as this and the land on which they are built are usually owned as one, accessing the house can require passing through a neighboring piece of property. These easements — commonly known as Right-of-Way Grants — typically remain on the title even as the home is sold and handed over to new owners. In this type of situation, homeowners should be sure to understand who is tasked with the upkeep for the parcel of land affected by the easement.

Individual land owners are not the only ones who use easements. Pennsylvania utility companies — including phone and electricity — utilize easements when wires, pipes and telephone poles are located on a person’s property. These easements are usually found listed on a home or property’s title, but many owners are not aware of the easement until a crew from the company actually shows up to perform maintenance and replace faulty equipment. Homeowners can avoid undue surprises and be better informed of their rights by reviewing their titles for possible easements with a qualified expert.

Whether the need for an easement is obvious or not, these legal right-of-ways can provide strategic solutions for those who need to make reasonable use of another person’s land. However, to avoid surprises, newly minted homeowners and those seeking to purchase additional properties should be thorough when reviewing titles for easements. In many instances, this process is best aided by counsel knowledgeable in real estate law.