Easement in Gross
Easements – a familiar term to most, but what does it really mean? An easement is the right to use or enter onto the real property of another without possessing the property. There are two main types of easements: an easement appurtenant i.e., an easement allowing you to cross your neighbor’s property to reach a public street, and an easement in gross. This post focuses on the latter, and unlike the name may suggest, an easement in gross can be quite the opposite of gross because of its usefulness.
What is an Easement in Gross?
An easement in gross attaches to an individual or legal entity which is different than an easement appurtenant that attaches to land. This type of easement is for the benefit of the person or entity, not a particular piece of property. Easements in gross are non-transferable unless specifically provided for or consented to by the owner of the land, also known as the “servient estate”. The servient estate is the land burdened by the easement and often is not necessarily a benefited parcel of land. This may also be called a “servient tenement” which is also defined as land over which the owner (the “servient owner”) grants an easement to the owner of the easement or benefitted person in the case of an easement in gross. The owner of the easement is known as the “dominant owner” is the case of the owner as a person or entity. If the easement is granted to land it is known as the “dominant tenement.”
What is an example of an Easement in Gross?
A common example of an easement in gross is a public utility line easement. A utility company with an easement in gross has an interest or right to the land where the utility lines, poles, pipes, etc. are placed and the property is the servient estate. This easement in gross is for the benefit of the utility company because it allows the utility company to access the utility lines without being liable for trespassing. Another common easement in gross grants an individual recreational right like the right to hunt, camp, boat, and fish.
When does an Easement in Gross Terminate?
Another major difference in an easement appurtenant and an easement in gross is how the easements are terminated. Easement appurtenant travel with the land, meaning even if the servient estate is sold to a subsequent owner, the easement transfers and remains a binding agreement. Conversely, an easement in gross is considered void and otherwise terminated upon the transfer of land to a subsequent owner.
Given the rights you may give or gain, it is important to know what type of easement agreement you are entering into with another party. If you need to form an easement or are involved in an easement dispute, please reach out to Collins Legal, PLC to discuss your rights.