Inspections, surveys, title, and mortgages—all are terms that come up routinely in a New Jersey real estate closing. But one word you do not hear often, but which can affect your property or a real estate closing, is an easement. What is an easement, and how does it affect your property or your closing?
An easement is a right granted to a non-owner to use your land for a distinct purpose. For example, the easement can allow other people to cross your property to get somewhere else. A typical example is a house that is beachfront. To allow citizens to access the public beach behind your home, your property may have an easement that allows people to go through your property to get to the beach area.
An easement can be general, like one that provides access to the general public, or specific, like an easement that is granted only to, for example, a utility company.
Easements can be permanent—that is, they run with the land, meaning that every subsequent purchaser is burdened by the easement (meaning you must provide access to whoever uses the easement even if you just purchased the property and did not agree on the easement).
An easement may be temporary, such as providing easement to workers on a construction project for a stated amount of time.
Who Owns the Land?
You still own your land, including the easement—the property subject to the easement is just available for the user to access.
Easements must be in writing. Usually, at your survey or at your real estate closing, the presence of an easement will be made known to you. If you are a party with an easement, and your easement is recorded after a recorded mortgage, a foreclosure will eliminate the easement.
Easements can also be created by necessity, such as when property ends up being subdivided, or where there is adverse possession. These kinds of easements often are not in the public records.
Be Aware of Potential Easements
Easements are important because you, as a purchaser, may want to know if you have to grant access to your property to people who may be strangers. Some easements, such as those that may provide access to beaches or public docks, may lead to significant foot or vehicle traffic going across your property.
If the easement provides access to a specific entity, that entity or company may have the obligation to maintain the easement. For example, if a roadway goes through your property which is an easement provided to someone who has property behind yours, that person may have the obligation to maintain the roadway/easement.
In most cases, your title insurance company will insure you in the event there is an unknown, unwritten or unrecorded easement that encumbers your property.
Contact our New Jersey Real Estate attorneys at The Law Office of Agnes Rybar LLC for help today if you have a closing or a real estate legal matter.