What is an easement?
In short, an easement is a legal right to use property. Easements can be held by individuals, companies and government entities for numerous reasons. When buying land, it's vital to find out if the property features any easements, as these can directly impact how the land can be used.
Types of easements
The most common types of easements you'll find include easements in gross, easements by necessity, easements by prescription and conservation easements.
An easement in gross is when a property right, but not the property itself, is awarded to a person or persons. For instance, if a power company needs to build power lines that go over someone's farm land, that company will need to acquire an easement in gross.
Meanwhile, an easement by necessity is when an individual or entity is given access to travel over someone else's land in order to reach another property. These are most commonly awarded in the case of landlocked parcels.
An easement by prescription can be a bit trickier to understand. If a person uses someone else's land continuously for a certain number of years without the owner's consent but in a fashion that can be clearly observed, an easement by prescription may be put in place recognized. In this way, someone can gain the legal right to use another's land without their consent.
Conservation easements are more straightforward, as they are designed as agreements between land owners and government agencies to limit property use in an attempt to preserve the land in exchange for tax benefits fauna. If you want to ensure the trees on your timberland property are protected from being cut down harvested, a conservation easement would achieve that.