If you have ever purchased property before, you may have encountered an easement. Easements are legal arrangements that allow the use of land by someone other than the owner.

Easements are not as nefarious as they sound. Courts grant easements when they are essential for a public function or harmless to the parcel owner. Understanding the difference in easements, their application and their defensibility in court can help inform real estate purchasing decisions and help you get the most value for your money.

Different types of easements

As you shop around for property, you may encounter several types of easements. Each type regulates a different kind of allowance and use, specific to the situation on the property. Categories include:

  • Necessary: Necessary easements concern access to neighboring properties. One of your neighbors may require use of your driveway to access their land, necessitating an easement.
  • Implied: Often created by a deed or a will, implied easements often concern parcels of land that were once part of a greater whole. An implied easement might allow people to trespass on your property to access a public beach.
  • Prescriptive: Common in Minnesota’s rural areas, prescriptive easements concern a neighbor using a parcel of land they do not own. Courts will award this easement if the claimant can prove they used the land continuously for 15 years, treated it as their own and did not conceal its use.
  • Preservation/conservation: These easements help protect natural resources, historically significant buildings and animal habitats. The state often allows landowners to sell the land under easement or obtain a tax break from the Internal Revenue Service.

Find the experience and knowledge you need with a lawyer

If you are hoping to break into the real estate market with smart investments, you may find more success working alongside an attorney familiar with Minnesota’s real estate laws. A lawyer can help review a purchase contract, recommend expert inspectors and review any easements against your property.