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Understanding Property Easements

On Behalf of | May 27, 2014 | Real Estate Law

Simply put, an easement is a vested right of someone other than the property owner to use the property in some limited capacity. Unlike a license, the property owner cannot simply revoke an easement when it is no longer convenient. Instead, an easement is a titled interest in land that can be bought and sold, may be recorded as part of the property’s chain of title – and under the right circumstances can remain binding even after the property changes hands. In other cases, an easement may come into being based on the circumstances. These are called implied easements but are often no less real in the legal sense than those that are deliberately created by property owners.

If properly recorded an easement may be binding against subsequent good-faith purchasers of the property, even if they were not aware of its existence, under Minnesota’s recording statute. Following are some common rights that a property owner may grant to another through an easement:

  • Using a road that crosses the property
  • Exploiting minerals, lumber or other natural resources on the property
  • Hunting on the property
  • Running utility pipes or wires across a property
  • Storing material or vehicles on a portion of the property
  • Drawing water from a source on the property

Without proper title research, unknown easements can often surface and cause problems for a new property owner subsequent to closing. Conversely, individuals who have been validly granted easements and have come to rely upon them may need to take legal action if a new owner refuses to respect those easement rights. An experienced Elk River real estate litigation attorney can help you uncover and resolve these issues and fully understand the rights or obligations an easement may create.