Easements, being very common in many real estate matters, come up from time to time with homeowner associations. A recorded land easement is a legally binding instrument which permits or restricts land use by the land owner and other parties who do not own the land in question. Easements that are restrictive can limit particular forms of development, such as building a home with a minimum amount of square footage or limit other activities such as where a fence can be erected. Easements can be recorded on the deed either as permanent easements or as temporary easements. Temporary easements have to be filed with an expiration date. An example of a temporary easement would be for construction that would be completed by a certain date. All easements have to be for a specific purpose.
There are two categories of easements: easement appurtenant and easement in gross. An easement appurtenant is an easement between two parties owning adjoining property. An example would be one homeowner association may have an easement allowing a neighboring homeowner association access to their property to perform maintenance on a storm drain that services both properties.
An easement in gross is an easement recorded only on one property and not any adjourning properties. An easement in gross is usually a utility or a municipality easement, which would allow utility or municipality to install water lines, sewer lines, etc on the particular property.
While there are two categories of easements there are various types of easements: Right to Light, Utility, Sidewalk, Driveway, Beach Access, Dead End, to name just a few. It is self evident what a utility or a sidewalk easement is, but our client associations deal with several unique easement situations.
Driveway easements, also known as easement of access. This type of easement can be for when adjacent lots have shared driveways that both lot owners share to access garages or alleyways. Houses could also be situated in such a way that access to the backyards is via a walkway. Even when the walkway is wide enough, easements may exist to allow for access to the roof and other parts of the house that lay close to a property line.