An easement is a way for someone else to have access to land for a certain type of use even though they don’t own that land. It doesn’t change the ownership at all, but it is also a binding agreement.
For example, perhaps a piece of real estate was cut off from the nearest street by someone else’s plot of land. The person who buys that real estate to build a house or business may reach an agreement with the other landowner that they can share a driveway or an access road. This person doesn’t own the road, but it’s clear that they need to be able to use it to make their own property functional.
But what if you’re purchasing a property that already has an easement? You didn’t agree to it, so do you have to continue to honor it?
The easement runs with the land
In most cases, you do have to continue to honor the easement. It is sad to “run with the land.” This just means that the easement is bound to that land and has to continue to exist, regardless of who purchases the property itself. Things are set up this way so that the other person can still have access. In theory, anyone who buys a piece of property with an easement will already understand that they have to uphold it.
There are exceptions to this rule, however. A personal easement, which is also called an easement in gross, may be able to be altered or transferred. An easement appurtenant is more common and this is the type that runs with the land.
Land-use rules like this can get complicated, as can purchases and transfers. You absolutely need to make sure you understand all the legal steps you’ll need to take.