Easements allow property owners to grant access to their land without also turning over ownership of that land. However, there can be some confusion when the property is later given away, sold, or inherited. Does the easement transfer with the property, or does the easement terminate once the property is owned by someone else?
Explore how easements are transferred in Maryland, and for more specialized guidance regarding your transfer, call Evans Law at 410-431-2599.
Easements in Maryland
People may be granted an easement for a wide range of reasons in Maryland. Easements may be given to utility companies to allow them easier access to usage meters and equipment. They can also be given to municipalities to provide access to drainage areas. Other common reasons for easements include:
- Conservation of wildlife or plants
- Driveway access
- Access to public areas, such as beaches
Most easements are considered affirmative, which means that they allow access to a specific area for a specific purpose. However, there are some easements that exclude a property owner from using part of their property in a certain way. For example, if a certain type of building or structure would disrupt the wildlife or ecosystem of the area, there may be a conservation easement preventing the property owner from building that type of structure.
How Easements Are Created
There are several ways easements can be established in Maryland. The first is an express easement. This involves creating a deed or contract that explicitly lays out the terms of the easement, the property it affects, and the limitations of the easement. This is obviously the best for both parties, as it sets clear boundaries and has little room for misinterpretation or misunderstanding.
However, easements may also be created by implication, necessity, or prescription. Easements by implication generally involve landlocked parcels that require an easement for access, while easements by necessity are created because the person requesting the easement must have a way to access their granted property. Easements by prescription arise when someone uses the property for 20 or more years without interruption.
What does this mean for a property that is sold, given to someone else, or inherited? It depends on what type of easement it is.
Easement Appurtenants in Maryland
Consider an easement appurtenant an easement that is with the land and is intended to benefit the person who requests it, regardless of who they are. The parcel of land that needs access is known as the dominant estate, and the parcel being used for access is known as the servant estate. Easement appurtenants are considered to go with the land because they are not personal in nature. For this reason, easement appurtenants do transfer with the land when it is sold, gifted, or inherited.
Easements in Gross
The other type of easement is an easement in gross. This gives permission to one specific individual or party the right to access the land for a limited purpose. Consider, for example, someone who allows their neighbor to cut through their backyard to get to their property. However, they only give permission to that individual for as long as they are their neighbor. That right does not automatically transfer when the home is sold, and the easement disappears once the property is sold, gifted, or inherited.
An easement in gross can become permanent, however. If the property owners agree, they can execute a contract outlining the terms of the easement.
An Attorney Can Help
Easements can be complicated for property owners, and the presence of an easement can definitely change your property value or how your property is used. If you have questions regarding easements on your specific property or a piece of property you’re interested in buying, reach out to a real estate attorney before moving forward.
Reach Out to Evans Law for Help with Your Real Estate Needs
At Evans Law, our extensive knowledge of Maryland real estate law makes us a top resource for residential and commercial property owners like you. Whether you’re selling, buying, or facing litigation, let’s sit down and figure out what your options are. Schedule a consultation by calling us at 410-431-2599 or sending us a message online.