The legal definition of easement is the right to use another person's property for a specific purpose. For example, an easement may be granted to allow a person with a landlocked property access to roadways. Easements are also commonly granted to allow public utilities, sewer lines, driveways, phone lines, and cable television lines to cross through property belonging to the granter of the easement. While easements are a property interest, ownership of the property remains with the original owner. Typically, an easement is allowed for a certain length of time and is described by boundaries or by its purpose.
Irrevocable Easement Problems
Irrevocable agreements are often made between home owners associations and cable television or phone companies. These companies may use a form easement agreement called a "right of way," "easement" or "license agreement." The easement agreements used are generally favorable towards the companies and not towards the association. For example, the easement created often becomes a permanent property interest for the company to enter the premises and their right to enter won't be revocable or transferable. This means if problems occur and the company with the easement does something that upsets the association, the HOA will not have the power to remove them from the property.
Conservation Easement Problems
A conservation easement is used to keep development out of a specific area. The easement may specify that the land must remained untouched and cannot be changed for a period of years. Conservation easements are often created when land is donated and they are used to protect ecosystems or to provide access to the public for recreation. Sometimes, however, organizations add lands that are not worth as much as others to conservation easements. Money may be spent on easements that might be better spent elsewhere and yearly maintenance of an easement can also be a financial burden.
Some easements cannot be transferred to new owners, especially if the easements were implied easements. Implied easements are those for which there is no formal written agreement but that exist because it was the intention of the parties to allow them to. Further, if a landowner has an easement on his land that provides access to some other person or entity, this can make it more difficult for that landowner to find a buyer since the easement will usually have to be sold along with it.
Problems can occur when property is sold or conditions change in ways that were not anticipated when the easement was granted. Problems can also arise when one neighbor has an easement on another's land and the neighbors do not get along. Once the express easement has been created, the original landowner can't just take it away. This can lead to two people who are fighting still being required to share an interest in the tract of land the easement is on.