What Is a Utility Easement?

What Is a Utility Easement?

July 14, 2021

Homeownership comes with many caveats, including ones you probably didn’t expect. For instance, you might be surprised to learn that some local companies can essentially do whatever they need to do with your land! That’s because every lot in your neighborhood contains a utility easement. Once you understand what an easement is, you’ll see why their restrictions are not only necessary, but work to your benefit as well.

Definition of easements

An easement means someone who isn’t the property owner retains the right to access and alter specific portions of a site. For instance, let’s say you’re the proud owner of a house along with the land surrounding it. The title information that came with your land purchase gives details about which spots are legally accessible to the public or a company. The easement could be public space like a sidewalk or nature trail, or it could be infrastructure owned and operated by the local government.

Most private residences contain utility easements. These are sections of your property that house electrical lines, water pipes, sewer systems, transformers and power poles. The purpose of the utility easement is either clearly visible or buried in the ground. For some, it doesn’t make sense for a company to retain control over a homeowner’s property. However, utilities help your community stay afloat, and easements are the best way to deliver the services these utilities offer.

Restrictions on property use

Utility easements were on the property long before someone purchased it. Even though somebody purchased the land, utility companies must enforce rules governing how the owner can use their property. This means a property owner faces some restrictions on what they can or cannot build on the site. For instance, homeowners aren’t allowed to plant trees right next to power poles. If they want to build an underground pool, there are certain sections of the yard they will likely have to avoid to protect utility infrastructure.

Utility companies hold these restrictions in place so the water, electrical and sewer lines can do their jobs without interruption. If a tree grows too tall, the branches can tangle up electrical lines and cause a power outage. Another thing to keep in mind is that utilities can be very dangerous. These companies prohibit homeowners from building structures too close to the utilities so residents can stay out of harm’s way.

Utility easements benefit everyone

Homeowners not only ask what an easement is but also why they’re necessary. Contrary to what homeowners might think, utility easements are quite beneficial because they save money for both homeowners and companies. Underground utilities run in a straight line, which cuts back on materials and reduces the cost of maintenance. Lower maintenance fees mean the companies need less money for upkeep, which in turn drives down a homeowner’s monthly bills.

The concept of utility easements can get a little confusing, especially as it pertains to how property owners can use their land. Speak with our professionals if you have further questions about what an easement is and their intended purposes. We’ll walk you through the title information that came with your deed and help you make property improvements while following city regulations.

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