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Understanding easements for real estate development projects

California businesses often face easement restrictions, from walkways and dominant tenement to parking lots. Encroachments and boundary line disputes can derail a commercial real estate project before it gets started. 

According to the California Land Title Association, an easement is a real estate ownership right. It grants an entity or individual the use of another’s property indefinitely. This right is often essential in construction projects and real estate development. 

Easement classes

There are two easement classes. An Easement in Gross attaches access rights to a single property with no dominant tenement. Utility companies often use this class of easement. It allows for crossing property without going to another, particular property. The easement does not transfer with the sale of a property. 

Appurtenant easements address two properties with two different owners. Called dominant and servient, this type of easement enables access to your property (dominant) by crossing someone else’s property (servient). These easements attach to the property, not the person, which means the new owner has the same rights as the old owner upon the sale. 

Easement types

There are several types of easements established by California law that may meet your needs. 

  • Easement by express grant – Provides an easement through a deed or contract 
  • Easement by prescription – Used when and if a person can prove their open and continual use of a property for at least five years 
  • Easement by necessity – Employed when there is no other alternative for a landlocked parcel 
  • Easement by implication – A necessary easement for a lot if a larger tract division leaves it with no public road access 

Two types of conservation easements allow land managers and farmers by allowing easements for carrying out production goals while maintaining conservation efforts. 

Researching a parcel of land thoroughly before a purchase is critical if you have a real estate development plan, and resolving land problems early in the process can help you meet business goals.