What Is A Tree Easement?

What Is A Tree Easement?

A tree easement is a legally created covenant that protects trees and forests from being cut down or removed.   

These are typically purchased by corporations, private landowners, or state governments for a fee to limit the amount of trees that can be logged; destroyed by fire; or destroyed or damaged by natural disasters.

A tree easement may be obtained to permanently protect or preserve a tree and its associated infrastructure so as:

  • To protect a single tree from being cut down;
  • To protect the tree from being damaged by logging, construction, or salvage activities;
  • To protect a forested area from being developed;
  • To limit the size of a tree removal project.

Tree owners that have trees protected by easement can continue to use those trees as they choose. They may also continue to make renovations on their property such as building new houses, fences, and other structures.

The planting of trees on private property has become controversial in the United States. In some states, tree plantings have been banned as have the removal of trees on private property without the owner’s consent.

What Is Power Line Easement?

A power line easement is a legally created covenant that protects an electric power line from being taken down.

These are typically purchased by state or federal governments for a fee to limit the amount of trees that can be logged, destroyed by fire, or damaged by natural disasters, or to permanently protect or preserve a power line and its associated infrastructure.

 Power line easements may also be obtained to permanently protect or preserve a single tree from being cut down; to protect the power line from being damaged by construction or demolition activities; or to limit the size of a tree removal project.

The Internet has changed the way businesses operate, communicating with clients and customers over distances on a global scale. This has led to increased environmental awareness of how trees are planted and maintained on private property, as well as their effects on nearby properties.

When Can An Easement Be Removed?

An Easement can be removed when:

  • An owner can petition court for the removal of an easement.
  • The state may be able to claim the easement through eminent domain.
  • Demolition or construction requirements may be built into the easement contract; construction or demolition guidelines may also appear in state or federal land use regulations;
  • Tree owners may be able to negotiate an easement with the power company, utility companies such as a natural gas company, telephone companies and cable companies.
  • Merger, acquisition or sale of the property may also result in the termination of an easement.
  •  Necessities of health, safety and welfare may require a power company easement to be removed.
  • The property owner may also seek a court hearing to have the easement removed by joining in an action to remove the easement. However, these court decisions are not binding since an easement is a private contract between a landowner and an entity such as a power company.

Can Anyone Use A Utility Easement?

Utility easements are typically conveyed to the utility or Power Company.

There may be restrictions built into the easement, especially if the easement is not perpetual. The public does have access to utility easements, but may be restricted from certain areas such as those that cross private property.

This could cause injury, such as a power line easement; or easements that cross an area of federal or state land that has been designated as wilderness.

Utility companies such as a power company and water company will generally use easements to protect their networks and resources from damage.

The city of Houston, Texas is currently considering allowing utility companies to remove utility easements so they can move electrical lines underground; however, opponents have said this could have a negative impact on the local tax base and the surrounding neighborhoods.

For example, a homeowner can use and walk on a power line easement, but it is against the law to touch an energized wire or equipment.

What Are The Legalities Of An Easement?

By law, easements are a type of property right. They give the right to use another individual’s or entity’s land to cross over it, dig under it or place a pipe or structure upon it. Some easement rights may be exclusive, such as the right of way for the electricity company.

Other legal easements may be nonexclusive, such as those that protect an individual tree from being cut down by a neighbor without the owner’s consent; or to those that protect a power line.

Private property owners may seek the use of easements for utilities such as water and sewer lines, gas lines, oil pipelines, telephone lines, electric transmission lines, and cable TV lines. In some cases utility companies will simply request permission from the landowner.

 Although most people would prefer to have their tree protected by an easement; most have a hard time relinquishing any part of their property even if it is in the best interest of their property’s value and health.

What Is A Cross Easement Agreement?

A Cross Easement Agreement is a type of legal agreement that grants you access to another party’s property to gain access to your own property or vice versa.

A cross easement agreement essentially negates the purpose of a fence constructed between two properties; thus a cross easement agreement can be useful when attempting to communicate with a neighbor or to connect your property to another’s, say to connect your property to an electrical line.

The two parties that are party to this agreement, the willing crossing and the unwilling property owner are bound by the agreement and any access through the property of either party must be approved by all parties.

These agreements have many purposes such as:

  • Access to a neighbor’s power line in order to run a new line into your own backyard.
  • To gain access to a neighbor’s land to build a fence, access a road or driveway, or dig a ditch.
  • A piece of property that is legally connected to another property but not able to be accessed by it.

A cross easement agreement protects the privacy of neighbors and prevents one neighbor from encroaching upon the other neighbor’s property. Cross easements are generally used to protect privacy and property boundaries; however, they also act as a legal defense in disputes.

What Is A Fencing Easement?

A fencing easement is a legal instrument that gives you or your property owner the right to use property that is being fenced by another. This type of easement may also be referred to as a fencing agreement.

It includes fencing materials, such as posts, wire, and wire hangers; or fence materials in metal and wood forms such as chain-link fence and barbed wire; or it may include an access easement, which is an agreement allowing you to cross over one party’s property to another; such as to access your own property.

A fencing easement may include the right to use a pathway or road way to gain access to the property that is being fenced.

This type of easement is generally used when there is an existing pathway; road way or driveway already in place and you would like to have access through the fence. This can be useful when building a pool, for example, and you will need an access point for equipment and supplies.

What Is Maintenance Easement?

A maintenance easement is an agreement that gives you the right of access to another’s property in order to maintain a portion of the property that you own.

For example, your neighbor’s fence may need to be repaired or maintained on his or her land and he or she has agreed to allow you access for this purpose.

In many cases the maintenance easement is used where the fence or gate has deteriorated or needs repair so by accessing the land through this agreement.

It may be possible for you to make repairs without affecting your neighbor; rather, you may be able to do so without even being on your neighbor’s property.

Maintenance easements are generally granted where there is an existing easement across the property; however, any time a neighbor’s property has been divided by a fence, wall or a hedge and you have a right of access that is not in the form of an easement, then there could be grounds for creating this type of agreement.

Who Is Liable For An Accident On An Easement?

A person who is legally on another’s property may be liable for injuries or damages if he or she creates an unsafe condition on the easement.

This means that if you are on your neighbor’s land and you negligently create a hazardous condition on his or her side of the fence that it is your duty to correct it as soon as possible; you are responsible for it until you correct it.

You should be aware of your legal liability when you are on another’s land; for example, if you have wandered onto your neighbor’s yard in order to cut a tree limb from their tree and the limb falls over and damages your property.

The owner of the tree may be held liable for negligence. Similarly, if you have entered into your neighbor’s property in order to fix a fence post and the fence post falls on her property because of your negligence then she may hold you liable for damages.

Can You Build Next To A Drainage Easement?

A drainage easement is an agreement that allows you to build your home within the bounds of the property of another so long as the flow of water from their property is not impeded.

This type of easement does not apply if there has been any physical obstruction, such as a culvert, within the area where you wish to build. Your home must still be one story in height and your lot size cannot exceed 10% of the average lot size for your neighboring properties.

Drainage easements are typically found alongside roadways, streams, or rivers and the answer to this question depends greatly on where you live. Some drainage easements may be registered with your local county recorder’s office.

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