What is a Utility Easement? Utility Easement Rights on Your Property

What is a Utility Easement? Utility Easement Rights on Your Property

What is a Utility Easement?

An easement is the right to use a portion of a piece of property without actually owning it. A deed, which is normally issued to property owners upon the acquisition of a property, should describe all of a property’s public and private usage rights.

Utility easements are one of the most prevalent types of private property easements, allowing public utility providers access to the land for the purposes of installing, repairing, and maintaining utility lines.

Overhead electric, telephone, and television lines are examples, as are underground electric, water, sewer, telephone, and cable lines.

They exist because utility companies find it much more efficient to run lines directly through communities rather than around individual parcels of land.

Depending on the nature of the easement, both public and commercial services are available for finding subsurface utility wires.

In other words, a utility easement is a section of a land parcel or lot that the owner owns completely but that utility providers have access to.

So, you may have meter boxes or other such items in your backyard. You’ll notice it now and then. Back there are some boxes. Some folks may erect a fence around them or do something similar.

This will be a section of your property that you control but that utility provider can access to maintain or construct if they’re, digging new lines or something like that.

Gas companies, telephone companies, electrical companies, sewer lines, and other utility firms may have these types of easements.

The one thing to remember about utility easements is that it is not a smart idea to build or place anything of significant worth or permanence there.

Because, depending on where you live and what your city rules say, they may be able to come in and take objects out without replacing them, depending on where you live and what your local ordinances say.

So, if you have any questions, you can contact your city, but it’s something to keep in mind. This is what a utility easement is.

Utility Easement Rights on Your Property

The utility company may have a variety of legal rights if you have a utility easement on your property. You may be subject to the following restrictions:

Access to utility companies without your permission. You might want to know who will be working on your property and when, but the utility provider isn’t required to share such information.

Physical modifications are restricted. You may want to improve a certain area of your property, but the utility easement may prevent you from doing so owing to utility lines, such as adding an in-ground swimming pool or erecting a fence.

Restrictions on vegetation the utility provider may need regular access to a certain location and may rip up your garden on a regular basis. Furthermore, many utility easements restrict the planting of large trees in a specific region.

If you’re thinking about buying a property with a utility easement, it’s a good idea to do some study on your local rules and regulations. The specific regulations will differ depending on the nature of your utility easement.

Regrettably, the rules concerning utility easements can be a little murky. If you have any questions, contact your local utility company.

How utility easement affects what one does on their property

A utility easement requires the owners to allow utility companies to use easements on their property.

These utility companies are responsible for maintaining the right of passage and clearing the right of way. They are also supposed to direct traffic and keep people safe.

These rights must be given willingly, but they can be taken forcibly by force or agreed contracts if the circumstances warrant (such as in a lawsuit).

Typically, utility easement is seen as a benefit by homeowners.

Utility companies demand that you keep utility easement areas free at all times to ensure the safety of yourself, your neighbors, and anybody who lives, works, or plays nearby.

They can preserve and protect utility structures from damage by restricting activities in and around easement zones, ensuring safe and reliable energy to your community.

Utility Easement Example

Consider the following example of a utility easement.

Assume you own some land and a utility provider needs to install utility poles or power lines on your property. Instead of going through the process of purchasing the requisite land, the utility provider will set up a utility easement with you.

Before the utility provider begins work, both parties must agree to the utility easement. These types of easements typically last for a long time.

Why is it important to keep utility easements/rights-of-way clear?

Since the utility easement is an exclusive right to use a portion of your property, it’s important to keep the area clear of clutter.

This includes things like fallen trees and bushes.  Keep these areas as clean as possible to allow for unobstructed passage by utility companies, workers, and power lines. Don’t build too close to utilities!

Another important thing to remember is not to build any structures too close to the utility poles. This can cause interference with the work, as well as injury and damage to workers.

If this were to happen, the company could go back and ask for compensation for damages, or even seek punitive damages if it’s determined that your actions were intentional or that you had knowledge of the obstruction.

Keep in mind that the utility provider has only a few legal options when it comes to making these claims.

Can I Receive Compensation for A Utility Easement?

When a utility easement is first purchased, the incumbent owner is frequently compensated in some way. Future owners of the property, on the other hand, are usually not compensated or paid in any way.

If you are approached regarding a utility easement on your property, consult with a lawyer. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to renegotiate the initial agreement to obtain a fair amount of compensation.

In 2016, the Supreme Court decision ABI-K Pty Limited v. Frank Shi established a precedent that allows judges to evaluate whether an individual property owner’s request is reasonable.

If a judge determines that the proposed easement is both acceptable for the area and economically rational, the easement can proceed notwithstanding your objections.

Of course, utility companies would rather settle out of court than waste their resources in a protracted legal struggle. If you’re reasonable in your requests, you might be able to reach an agreement.

A legal expert can advise you on the best course of action for your specific case.

Who Is Granted A Utility Easement?

Easements are often allocated for a specific use and only permit select parties to access to it. They have the authority to grant or deny access to the land to public or private bodies, as well as to permit or prohibit specified activities.

A right-of-way is a similar notion that normally allows non-owners to traverse through the land without specifying which parties are permitted to do so.

The easements on the land should be described in full in the deed. Utility easements typically restrict access to the land to the staff of the utility company or municipality. Even so, they may only do so to service the utility wires.

When a property is separated from its street by another property, an easement may be designated to provide the owner of the back-property access to the roadway.

In this scenario, the easement is frequently limited to the driveway of the back-property owner in order to prohibit that individual from accessing other areas of the front property.

An easement can also be used to prevent a property owner from doing something like landscaping or installing a fence that might interfere with nearby property owners’ capacity to utilize their own property.

Public Utility lines

In the United States, the phone number 811 is used to access public utility location services, often known as “Call Before You Dig” services.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) designated 811 as the universal number for regional services that coordinate these location services in 2005.

Prior to that day, each of these regional services had its own 800 number, making it more difficult for property owners to identify utilities on their property.

The purpose of public utility location services is to prevent damage to underground wires that carry utilities such as power, water, or natural gas.

State regulations generally require you to call 811 before excavating in a utility easement, right of way, or public land, allowing the utility company time to identify the position of underground wires before you begin digging.

These markers are color-coded to identify the utility. Marking services should be provided at no cost. Lines are routinely re-marked if digging hasn’t started within a specified amount of time, which is usually around 10 days.

Utility companies designate the position of utility lines up to but not beyond the user’s service connection or meter.

Lines beyond this point are considered part of the customer’s property and are not normally identified by public locating services.

Private Locating Services

Private utility locators are required when public locator mark-outs fail to fully identify the location of all utilities on an easement. This can happen on private land as well as huge commercial sites, especially if they are still under construction.

Location services are often requested by contractors such as excavators and drillers before to the start of a project, while the facility manager may do so at some locations.

Underground utilities rarely travel in straight lines for long distances since their path is determined by a variety of factors, including geophysical features and service requirements. Some of these changes might be rather significant, necessitating full shifts in direction.

As a result, field personnel requires substantial experience to recognize the multiple differences in the route of a utility line.

Where to find all the utility easements on one’s property

The majority of easements are documented on your property’s title information. If your title paperwork does not mention any utility easements and you intend to build something near an electrical line, power pole, or high-voltage facility a separate easement should be obtained.

The correspondence between the public utility and your property owner will be more direct and effective as well.

The proper authority to deviate from existing easements is often specified in the deed of sale of your real property, even if it’s not mentioned in your title.

In rare cases, a local municipality may grant such authority, but the process can be lengthy depending on how many people show an interest in the subject property.


Utility easements are typically granted for the purpose of accessing a utility service, and usually only by local authorities.

In the United States, all utilities must have access to them since the United States has no federal privacy law.

Utility easements can be some of the most important land-use restrictions, especially in major metropolitan areas where they might affect many properties.

Utility Easement FAQs

What is a Utility Easement?

A utility easement is an area of your land where a utility company or government entity has the right to place its wires, pipes, and such. Utility companies cannot interfere with your use of the land except to maintain their facilities.

Utility easements are normally marked by brightly colored paint on the ground, but they are often faded and hard to see over time.

What is a Utility Easement?

An easement is a real estate ownership right (an “encumbrance on the title”) granted to an individual or company to make a limited, but usually indefinite, use of another person’s land.

Easement owners have a legal right to keep the easement in good condition and a legal right of access across the easement.

What are the 4 types of easements?

Easements are classified into four categories. They are easement by necessity, prescription easement, condemnation easement, and party easement.

What is another name for utility easement?

PUE is an abbreviation for Public Utility Easement. A PUE, like other easements, allows the owner of the easement specific rights.

How do I get an easement from my neighbor?

For example, you may require an easement because someone else’s property gives easy access to water.

To secure an easement, you must first negotiate with the landowner whose property you wish to use. Then, you must prepare the suitable legal paperwork and file it with the local Recorder of Deeds.

What can you do on an easement?

An easement may be required to provide access to critical services such as water or electricity to other properties.

Allow service technicians to work on your property to maintain or repair the easement’s services. Allow neighbors access to their property via the road.

How do easements affect property value?

An easement can reduce the value of the real estate, increase the value of the real estate, or have no effect at all on the value of the real estate.

The most important thing to remember is that each property and scenario should be analyzed individually, taking into consideration all of the facts.

What does an easement look like on a survey?

Easements will be depicted on the survey and are often denoted by dashed lines. Easements are “Rights,” usually for a defined use, rather than ownership.

This easement grants the utility company access to that area of your property for the purpose of maintaining, improving, or installing utilities.

What is an example of an easement on a property?

Right of way for access to the properties is an example of a type of easement that grants the right to another party for a specific use. Easements are limited in nature and for use in relation to the real estate on which they reside.

How does utility locate work?

A licensed professional locate both public (RED) and private (BLUE) utilities prior to building new structures or digging within property lines.

A surveyor uses identifying markers such as pole numbers, pipe markings, or characters on a survey to identify the location of utilities.

How does a utility company determine where to place its lines?

Utility companies attempt to minimize conflicts between their wires and structures by having their crews mark out the easements at the beginning of any project.

They will frequently choose the area that offers the most benefits and minimizes the number of additional structures that need to be constructed.

What is an easement by necessity?

An easement by necessity allows an easement holder to use another party’s land. There is no legal deed (that belongs to you) between the utility company and landowner guaranteeing access, but it does protect your property from a possible adverse change in title or uses of the land.

What is an example of a utility easement by necessity?

The right to construct a fence or other barrier around your property that blocks their access.

What is an easement by prescription?

An easement by prescription allows the owner of an easement to keep the easement in good repair and to use it as agreed upon.

A prescription easement involves a legal agreement between the parties, describing the terms and conditions of its use.

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