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Understanding Various Types of Easements

Understanding Various Types of Easements

In real estate, an easement is a legal provision granting a person or entity the right to use another person’s land for a specified purpose. It’s a concept that has far-reaching implications on how a property can be used and by whom, effectively influencing a property owner’s rights.

In Missouri, easements hold a special significance. They form an important and traditional part of the property law landscape, dictating aspects of property usability and accessibility. However, the laws and regulations regarding easements in Missouri have some unique nuances, and an experienced real estate attorney can be very helpful in such matters, whether a person is simply trying to have a better understanding of their own property issues, or may even be required to litigate such concerns.


The Concept of Easements

At its core, an easement grants a person permission to use another’s person’s real property for a distinct purpose. While an easement permits land usage, it doesn’t confer ownership. The property’s title remains with the owner, but the easement can certainly affect how the owner is able to utilize the property.  Easements can also impact property rights because they may dictate specific terms regarding how the property can be used by the party holding the easement.

Easements generally fall into two main categories: positive easements and negative easements.

  • Positive easements grant permission for a specific use of the property. For instance, a neighboring property owner might have a positive easement allowing them to use your driveway for access.
  • Negative easements, on the other hand, restrict how a property owner can use their property. Suppose, for example, a historical preservation easement might forbid modifications to the property’s facade.

Thus, understanding the difference between positive and negative easements helps property owners grasp their rights and responsibilities more effectively.


Types of Easements in Missouri

In Missouri, many types of easements exist, each serving a specific purpose, and impacting property use differently. Here are just a few of the most common types of easements you might come across:

  1. Right-of-Way Easements: This easement is commonly granted to allow a person or entity to pass over another’s land, typically to access a different property, usually the easement holder’s own property.
  2. Drainage Easements: These easements facilitate water flow, allowing for proper stormwater management. They are often critical for preventing flooding and water damage.
  3. Solar Easements: Solar easements may be necessary in order to secure homeowners’ rights to access sunlight for their solar panels. This type of easement promotes energy efficiency and sustainability.
  4. Light and Air Easements: These ensure a property owner’s access to light and air. They can prevent neighboring properties from building structures that obstruct this access.
  5. Driveway Easements: These easements provide a right of way over a portion of a property to access a residence or other structure.
  6. Utility Easements: These are the most common easements, granting utility companies the right to install and maintain utilities like power lines and pipelines on a property.
  7. Conservation Easements: These protect a property’s natural resources and preserve open space by restricting specific property uses.

Comparing and contrasting different types of easements, and understanding their various functions, can help one to better understand their own easement rights.


Creation and Maintenance of Easements in Missouri

Under Missouri law, easements can be established through various mechanisms, each with distinct legal conditions and consequences. Below are some of the standard ways easements are created in Missouri:

  1. Easements Appurtenant: These easements are created to benefit a specific parcel of land. The right to the easement passes along with the land when it is sold, ensuring continued benefits for subsequent owners.
  2. Easements in Gross: Contrary to easements appurtenant, these easements are not tied to the land. Instead, they benefit a specific individual or business entity. For example, a utility company might possess an easement in gross to run power lines across a property.
  3. Easements by Prescription: Also known as prescriptive easements, these come into existence when a property’s use for a specific purpose has been continuous, open, and unchallenged for a certain period. Missouri law allows for such easements if the statutory period and other conditions are met.
  4. Visible Easements: These easements are established when the use of a property is apparent and can be easily observed. For example, a footpath across a property that has been used openly for years could become a visible easement.
  5. Easements by Necessity: These easements are created when they are essential for using and enjoying a piece of land. If a property can only be accessed by passing through another property, an easement by necessity may be granted.

These legal pathways for creating easements highlight how property rights can be shaped and influenced in Missouri.


Disputes About Easements and Boundary Issues

Just as easements can facilitate land use, they can lead to conflicts and disputes. In Missouri, disagreements over easements can arise from numerous causes. Here are some common triggers for easement disputes:

  • Encroachment: This occurs when a property owner exceeds the bounds of their easement, using a portion of the property not included in their easement rights. The encroachment might involve building structures or making modifications beyond the stipulated easement.
  • Misuse: Easement disputes can arise when the easement holder uses the easement for purposes not originally intended or allowed. This misuse can disrupt the property owner’s use and enjoyment of their own land.
  • Interference: If the property owner interferes with the easement holder’s right to use the easement, disputes can ensue. For instance, a property owner blocking a right-of-way easement can lead to a legal confrontation.
  • Abandonment: If an easement holder fails to use their easement for a considerable period, they may be viewed as having abandoned the easement, potentially leading to a dispute over whether the easement rights still exist.

Recognizing these common causes of easement disputes can help property owners anticipate potential conflicts and work towards preventing them.


Getting Help on Easement Issues from Expert Real Estate Attorneys

Navigating easement issues in Missouri can be complex. That’s where The PIatchek Law Firm, LLC can help. Our team of experienced real estate attorneys can guide you through easement creations, interpretations, and disputes – and help you protect your property rights.

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  • Avatar für Heather simpson

    Heather simpson

    April 23, 2024 - 6:01 pm

    Need help about a landscape Berm

    • Avatar für Joe Piatchek

      Joe Piatchek

      May 30, 2024 - 2:11 pm

      Hello Heather, We would love to help but would need some more information before we are able to determine if this is something our firm would be able to assist you with. Please call our office at (417)882-5858.

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