Suppose you plan to pour some concrete to expand your driveway, but there's a utility easement on the land. Do you need to get permission before pouring the concrete? Well, we have done some digging to find the soundest legal answer. Let's dive right in!
Generally, you can do whatever you want on your utility easement as long as it doesn’t unreasonably interfere with the use of the easement by the utility company.
So, as long as you don't obstruct it severely, you should be fine to pour your concrete.
If you want to be sure you are not breaking any rules when you do anything on the utility easement, keep reading as we explain exactly what you can and cannot do.
What Conditions Do You Need To Meet To Build On A Utility Easement?
Utility easements are rights of way that a property owner grants to a public utility company (such as a telephone or electric utility) to lay pipes, wires, or cables underground.
These easements are typically granted to maintain existing infrastructure or install new infrastructure. They usually run along the property lines for the length of the easement.
The property owner with a utility easement is entitled to the same use of the easement as the utility company is entitled to use. However, they may not interfere with the utility company's easement use.
In other words, the owner cannot make significant changes affecting the easement’s purpose. However, an owner can make minor changes to the easement if they don't cause a material change.
For example, a property owner with a utility easement across her yard may plant a tree or build a fence around it.
She can change the appearance of the easement as long as it doesn't materially affect the utility company's use and access to the easement.
Can I Build On My Neighbor's Utility Easement?
Yes, anyone can build anything on a utility easement as long as it does not restrict its purpose. However, we're not supposed to build something that will bother our neighbors.
It's best to talk with them about what you plan to do and get their approval before proceeding as an act of courtesy.
If they don't mind you building there, there is nothing to worry about. If they care, you may have to be a bit more careful about what you build.
So, if you want to expand your driveway, you should limit the coverage.
Doing this won't make your neighbor feel like they are losing their privacy and interfere with the utility company's use of the easement.
How Do I Know If My Property Has A Utility Easement?
You may think the only thing you have to worry about when buying or selling real estate is the deed restrictions. But the truth is, the easements associated with the property can be a major factor in the home's value.
A home's easement affects the property in many ways, including:
- Easement affects the size of your lot, making it smaller.
- It can affect the access to your land, making it more difficult for you to use.
- The easement can restrict your development.
- An easement or absence can make or break the sale of the property.
Generally, easements are not visible, yet they can create legal issues on your property. It is common for property owners to be unaware of easements and how they affect their property.
You can go to the county records office and check the records to find out if any easements are registered on the property.
The record will give you the names of the previous owners and the dates the easement was granted.
Further, suppose you're aware that there has always been either a utility cable or pipe running through your parents' property. In that case, there's a good chance of a utility easement on your property.
The video below describes what an easement is in detail:
Can You Extinguish A Utility Easement?
Utility easements are supposed to be permanent. However, there are. However, in which, a utility easement can be extinguished. The first is by abandonment, and the second is by the end of necessity.
Abandonment of a utility easement is the voluntary relinquishment of its use or possession. The party abandoning the easement must be resolved in his intent to abandon the easement.
Abandonment cannot be established by proof of non-use alone, but it may be inferred. Still, it is non-use if the circumstances surrounding the non-use are consistent with the disinterest and blatant disregard for the easement.
Abandonment is determined based on the parties' intents, not on the subjective belief of any of them.
The intent to abandon may be expressed or implied, but it must be proven by clear, unequivocal, and convincing evidence.
Abandonment usually happens when there is an end of necessity of a utility easement.
End Of Necessity
Whenever the utility company cannot continue to serve the easement area due to a change in its operations, it can no longer provide service to its customers.
This ends the necessity of the easement.
This event can result from a change in the: location of the service line, the construction of a new facility, or the relocation of an existing facility.
In such cases, the utility company has no choice but to abandon the easement. The company must make reasonable efforts to notify the owner of its intention to abandon the easement.
Check out this book about easements on Amazon.
How Close Can I Build My Pool To A Utility Easement?
Building a pool is fun, but before you start, you need to consider how your pool will impact the utility easement and your neighborhood.
You need to know that your neighbors may be concerned about noise and the safety of their kids. So, when designing your pool, you need to factor in these elements.
Typically, utility easements are designed for specific infrastructures. These include pipes, underground cables, and electrical lines.
These areas are placed explicitly for these materials.
Although there is no distance requirement on how close or far you should build your pool: you may want to build it further away. Make these areas to avoid any interference.
How Wide Should A Utility Easement Be?
Utility easements should be as wide as possible to accommodate pipes, cables, or power lines routed through them.
The typical width for a utility easement (sewer and water lines) is 20 feet, but the distance depends on the installed service type.
For example, if installing a high-voltage transmission line, you should ensure the easement is at least 50 feet wide. For anything else, then you may only need 10 feet.
Can My Neighbor Put A Gate Across A Right Of Way?
Your pesky neighbor can put a gate across a right of way as long as it does not substantially interfere with your ability to use the right of way. The real issue arises when he locks the gate you are forced to go over.
A right of way is an easement that allows one person to use another's property to reach their property. An example would be a road that runs through the middle of two parcels of land.
My Neighbor Is Blocking My Right To Access - What To Do?
A neighbor blocking access to your property is a pain in the behind. While you don't own the right of way since it is given to you as a privilege, you can use it for whatever purposes you wish.
You can use an alternative route if you're not trespassing on someone else's property.
To determine whether or not your neighbor is blocking your access, you must first determine where your neighbor's property begins and ends.
Then, you need to figure out what is and isn't permissible on his and your side. Some activities are allowed, while others are not.
Sometimes, issues like this happen because you've done something to your neighbor that you're unaware of, and he's just trying to make you pay for it. Most of the time, the problem may result from a misunderstanding.
Maybe your neighbor thinks you're taking too long to get in or out of your car. Regardless, it's best to confront him and talk it over a cup of coffee.
Can A Right Of Way Be Extinguished?
A right of way is the easement over your land to facilitate the passage of people or other vehicles. It grants the right to use your land for road purposes.
You should always ensure the people pass over your land without inconveniencing you/your family.
If the right of way has already been granted to other entities and you want to extinguish it, you need to ask for their consent first. You can't revoke a right of way unilaterally.
The most important thing you need to consider before allowing a utility easement on your property is how it will affect your home.
You can cut, build fences and gates or make other modifications that will not disturb the water pipes buried beneath the ground or electrical lines above it.
Finally, you are permitted to do this as long as you do not restrict the access of the easement holder.
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