What is Road Easement? Why is Road Easement Important?
What is a Road Easement?
A road easement is a strip of land that has been legally donated for use as a public highway. The landowner permits the general public to travel over it. The easement may also contain utility lines, sidewalks, or other features that are used by the general public.
An easement holder can use an easement without consent from the landowners if they are using it for its intended purpose.
If someone uses an easement in a way that is not allowed, then they are trespassing and may be liable for criminal charges or civil damages, depending on where they are located
In most cases, a donation does not transfer ownership of an easement to the government or another owner.
In these instances, the owner retains some rights and responsibilities over the property while granting others to those who can use it as they please. The easement may be used as a right of way, a utility easement, or both.
Typically, the donation is an act of goodwill that the owner does not intend to profit from. In many cases, however, the donation was made for compensation.
A landowner may sell the property at full market value and donate the portion intended for use as a public highway or utility lines. This practice is sometimes used when drafting land development regulations.
Why is Road Easement Important?
Road easements are used for entry and egress – the ability to enter and depart a property.
Walkways and roadways can be used when the public has access to a property. The easement holder may want to collect some money from the property owner which can help finance road construction, maintenance, and other public improvements.
When a parcel of land does not border a public, government-owned roadway, this need arises.
If you buy land that is “landlocked,” you’ll need a road easement to access the public road and enter and exit your property. Buyers of homes and land should condition their purchase on having access to and from a public road.
If you don’t have this, you won’t be able to use the land or house you’ve bought. You can ensure this by obtaining a land survey prior to closing on the property.
To gain access without an easement, at least one boundary of the property must exactly coincide with the edge of a roadway, with no gap or deviation. This is referred to as the right-of-way line.
If these lines do not coincide, you (the buyer) must ensure that the property in question has an easement that gives the buyer the legal right to cross over whatever property is between their property and the public road.
If you want to dwell on the land, in addition to the road easement, you need to include the right to utility wires and pipes.
Without this, the land is not only difficult to live on, but it also loses a lot of value. You would most likely have a difficult time selling the property if you had plans to.
Private and Public Road Easement
A road easement is an easement that permits someone other than the property owner to build and use a road on a parcel of land.
Depending on who needs to use the road and why, road easements might be private or public. The easement grants individuals the right to use the road but not the right to own it.
Road easements can be formed in a variety of contexts, and the law can get highly convoluted when it comes to the specifics of easements.
Private road Easement
The most common reason for a road easement is to provide access to a property that would otherwise be landlocked. Not every lot is adjacent to a public road, therefore residents must find a method to travel from the public road to their property.
A road easement grants them permission to travel over someone else’s land.
Easements are also occasionally utilized to establish shared roads, with the understanding that two or more properties both require public road access and hence benefit from sharing an easement. A private easement is a name given to this form of road easement.
Private road Easement Rules
If a private road easement exists, the actual road itself must be used by the public.
For private easements to be valid, the land must be capable of supporting a highway or similar physical structure.
It does not necessarily mean that the property is good for use as a highway itself; that is considered in the contractual agreement between all parties at the time of sale.
Rules for setting up the details of the legal agreement around building and use vary with each jurisdiction. Rules for private easements tend to be more strict than public easements.
Public Road Easement
A public road easement allows one party to claim legal access to a public road that does not exist.
The agreement between the parties typically involves the creation of a highway through a piece of property in return for securing use of the easement. Some agreements place limits on how the public may use and access the road, usually for security purposes or so that traffic will not clog up local roads.
The easement holder is usually given the right to build and use a portion of the road. The public road may be marked and maintained by the easement holder or another party.
Public road Easement Rules
To be valid, a public road easement must grant one party access to a public roadway without charge or other consideration. It is also required that the landowners agree to accept certain terms in order to secure use of this easement.
Most public road easement agreements are entered into by a legal process known as “adverse possession”.
A public road easement can be reversed if the holder violates any contract terms, or if the public land is otherwise no longer in use as a highway, or if the land is deemed unsuitable for highway purposes.
The term “joint ownership” refers to the situation where two or more people are jointly asserting rights over a public road easement.
This type of ownership may arise if the land is both owned by the same individual and by others who have joint rights under an agreement with the individual that grants one party some use of the road.
In most cases, both parties will be required to enter into a contract, or other legal documents, explicitly granting each other joint use and sharing of the easement.
Road Easement Laws
Landowners do not have to seek permission to build an easement, but they may need express permission from the other party in order to do so.
A case in which a private party needs this permission is where, as part of a land sale, the seller agrees that the buyer can use a specific portion of land for building an access easement.
Another example would be obtaining government approval if an easement is being used by more than one individual.
Laws are in place to govern the creation and use of these easements, with the understanding that state, city, and county laws might all impose different rules on this matter.
A private road easement would occasionally be considered an implied easement; it is required in order to have access to a public road, but it is not considered explicitly granted during the sale of the property.
Under most circumstances, it is not possible to use a public road easement in order to claim title to the road itself.
This would seem to suggest that, in most states, the holder of a public road easement is unable to obtain legal title of the road itself.
The majority of state laws refer only to private road easements; there is no mention of a government granting an implied or explicit right to use a public roadway.
This implies that, although it is possible for someone else to build and retain a right-of-way over public property without express permission from the owner, these rights are weak at best.
Road Easement Case Studies
The following case studies include road easements from the US states.
California: Court Allows Public Road Access on Private Property Easement In this case, a man purchased two neighboring parcels of land and set out to build a private road easement on one. The second property owner claimed that doing so was not permitted by the law.
California has a public road easement law, but it only applies to cities with a population of 100,000 or more. Essentially, the law allows for public roads to be built over private land in certain cases related to utilities and other services.
This case was decided in favor of the property owner who sought to build the easement by finding that the proposed use did not qualify for an easement under California law.
Alaska: Public Road Easement Granted on Private Land in Small Town This case involved a dispute between two landowners over the use of what was essentially an alleyway. The land had been purchased by a private company for commercial use, but the company was unable to complete its plans in part due to the town’s reluctance to grant an easement.
The judge ruled that the city’s refusal to grant the easement was not warranted, and that the alley did qualify as a public road under Alaska law.
A public road easement was granted on the property in question.
Florida: Road Easement Not a Public Road Easement This is an interesting case involving a disagreement over whether or not a new road had been built on to the property of one of the parties.
The plaintiff had entered into a written agreement for building access to the private road. After construction had occurred, she claimed that there was no legal basis for continuing to use this access and did not want it maintained.
The court agreed, and found that the agreement in question was for use of a private road, and that it did not apply to a public road built by a third party.
Litigation over whether this access is open to the public is ongoing.
Road Easement Agreement
A road easement agreement sets out the terms and conditions under which one party will be permitted access to a public roadway. It is legally binding on both parties and serves as a contract under which they are entering into an agreement.
The terms in an agreement may be defined in detail or left open-ended depending on the needs of each party.
In some cases, the agreement may state that use of the roadway is to be regulated by state or local laws. In such cases, it is usually stated that the party responsible for maintaining the road retains ownership of it.
The agreement may also determine whether and how usage of the roadway will be restricted.
Road Easement Lawsuits
If you believe that you are owed damages for unpaid compensation for a road easement and you wish to pursue legal action, you must seek permission from the court before doing so.
The civil court system is a series of rules, regulations and procedures designed to provide fair justice and to ensure that disputes are handled in a civil manner.
If you are unsure if your situation qualifies as a lawsuit, it is best to contact an attorney.
It may be necessary to get the permission of the other party in order for legal action to take place.
The outcome of such a lawsuit would depend on the terms of the agreement and whether they have been violated.
It is possible for either party to be awarded compensation in such a situation.
Written Road Easement Agreement
A road easement agreement can be drafted by a legal professional or it can be left open-ended if the parties agree on terms that are not covered.
It is important to adhere to any limitations and restrictions imposed by housing laws, zoning regulations and other ordinances.
When drafting an agreement, you should make sure that the language of the document is clear to all parties. You must also make sure that all language used in the document complies with each party’s specific legal and personal situation.
Road Easement Maintenance
Who is responsible for maintaining a Road Easement?
The laws regulating easements might be difficult to understand. However, the regulations are quite clear regarding who is responsible for keeping an easement in place after it is established.
The person or entity using the easement (also known as the easement holder) is frequently the one responsible for its upkeep. While easement holders do not own the land, they are responsible for maintaining it while it is in their possession.
The majority of the rights will be retained by the landowner (easement owner). Owners of easements will still be permitted to remove bush and pave an unpaved road.
They cannot, however, obstruct any of the easement holder’s use or pleasure. They are also not obligated to maintain or repair the easement’s improvements. They can do so if they choose, but they are not compelled to.
What is a road easement?
A road easement is a legal access road that allows one party to pass over the property of another in order to access a public roadway, utility or other resource. It may also be used for purposes such as access to rural properties, water mains and campgrounds.
It is a public right-of-way to use someone’s property for the purpose of transportation, typically established by an agreement or court order. A typical easement can be created through prescriptive use, adverse possession, or contract.
The general rule with respect to the rights of an abutting landowner is he may not interfere with the public’s use of the roadway. If that right is interfered with, then the owner has breached his duty under law and can be sued for damages.
How do I acquire a road easement?
In some cases, the owner of a private property will request an easement. In other cases, the owner of a public roadway may approach you.
In either situation, you may be approached by a third party to grant access to your property. This may take the form of a neighbor’s request for an easement over your land. In some cases, this will be a formal request.
You might also have legal obligations under a will or trust agreement to grant access over your property in the event that someone dies or becomes incapacitated and cannot maintain their own property. This may require you to grant access even if you do not wish to do so.
Is an easement the same as a road?
An easement is completely different from a road. Roads are regulated by the Department of Transportation and are managed by local government authorities.
Easements are granted in some jurisdictions through the courts and will be governed by local ordinances and laws.
How does an easement work?
An easement, also known as an access agreement or deed of easement, sets out the terms and conditions under which one party will be permitted to pass over another’s land in order to access public resources.
Who owns an easement?
The landowner retains the ownership of any easements established on their land. Any party granting access to an easement over their property will retain possession of the right-of-way (easement) itself.
This will include any improvements made to the public roadway.
Who grants an easement?
An easement is granted by a deed or other legal instrument that acts as a license or contract between two parties. This is known as the grantor or transferor.
The party to whom it is granted is known as the grantee and user.
Do I need a lawyer to draft an easement?
Easements are generally much simpler legal instruments than other contracts and agreements, but it is often in your best interest to hire a lawyer to help you write and review any agreement before signing it. They can help you understand your rights and obligations under the terms of the document.
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 are public road easements?
Public road easements are those that serve a public purpose.
They provide access for travelers to important or critical services and resources such as schools, hospitals and government buildings. The fact that one party holds the easement does not mean that the other party cannot use the roadway.
What are private road easements?
A private road easement is established when a person or party consents to grant another person access to a public roadway for the purpose of carrying out work.
This may include driveway repair, paving and grading. These parties will be known as the road user and the holder of the easement.
For example, a property owner may want to pave a driveway in order to improve access on their property or provide better access for their guests to their house.
In this case, the party seeking to pave might approach a neighbor to see if they are willing to establish an easement on their property. If the owner of the private property consents, and the two parties agree on terms, an official easement recording may be filed with the government.
What is a utility easement?
A utility easement is a legal instrument that allows for access to underground utility lines such as water service pipes, electricity cables, and telephone lines.
A utility easement can be established by the property owner or sought out by the utility company.
What are overland utilities?
Overland utilities are those that run above ground, such as telephone lines and cable television lines. These may be easements as well, but they will likely fall under another category of easement known as a party easement.
What is the difference between a public and private easement?
The only distinction is who benefits from the easement. A private easement allows select persons the right to utilize another person’s land for a defined purpose.
A public easement, on the other hand, provides the broader public with this right.