Easement in Gross: Definition

An easement is a parcel of land, which a non-owner, such as a government, can use without owning it. An easement in gross, on the other hand, means the right person may legally access land that belongs to someone else until the legal owner holds the property or lives on the property. Then, the easement is invalid. Owning the property entitles an individual owner to allow others to use it how he/she wishes. An easement in gross contract is limited to only one property.

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What Does an Easement in Gross Allow?

Easements grant certain rights and privileges to people other than the land’s owner. Water and electric companies, for example, may use easements to gain access to cables and piping to support their services. As a result, the property owner will have limited actions to take with regard to the property that is included in the easement.

An easement might prevent a property owner from building certain structures on land included in the agreement; for example, an easement may allow a utility company to run necessary cabling. Swimming pools, driveways and other permanent structures that cause interference with the company’s ability to access the property can be restricted.

How Easement in Gross Works

Any right associated with an easement cannot transfer to another individual who benefits from the easement in gross. An easement in gross is void when the landowner sells, wills, or otherwise transfers the property to another person. Any rights associated with the easement are not transferable. By establishing a non-transferable characteristic of the contract, the property’s value doesn’t depreciate.

Attempts by the new owner to obtain an easement are possible, but there is no guarantee that the right will be granted. This is because the easement in gross agreement deals with the individuals rather than the property or land, therefore it does not affect the property.

Persons permitted to use the property do not have to live near the property or own it to get the related rights. Gross contract easements can have broad or specific permissions, as desired. When it comes to the restrictions outlined in an easement in gross agreement, the property owner typically has the most control.

Examples of Easement in Gross

An easement in gross confers a limited right to use another’s real property. You can better understand your easement rights by speaking with an easement attorney.

Land Access Easements

Homeowners may have easements in gross with their neighbors, allowing them to use a path or laneway through their neighbor’s property to reach their properties. In the case of a homeowner selling the property, the easement rights cannot be automatically transferred to the new owner.

Use of Land

An easement in gross, for instance, can allow the owner’s friend to fish on the owner’s pond until either the friend dies or the owner sells the real estate. 

Utility Easements

The most common types of easements in the United States are those granted to utility companies. Utility easements allow a company to provide utility services to parts of a property or to maintain the equipment that supplies those services.

A utility company may establish a gross easement to lay pipes over a property. The non-possessional right enables a utility company, for example, to operate and maintain lines or pipes. This includes cable television, natural gas, electric, and telephone services to install and maintain equipment for the homeowner’s and the neighborhood’s benefit.

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Pipeline Easements

Easements for pipelines are also regarded as common easements in gross. Easements of this type allow an entity, such as pipeline service companies access to buried sewer or water pipes, as well as to service or renovate the pipes. 

Land Conservation

Land conservation easements are also common easements in gross. A conservation easement prevents an owner from taking actions that will adversely affect the land’s conservation, like removing minerals or cutting down trees.

Who Does an Easement in Gross Benefit?

The easement in gross benefits a company or individual rather than a parcel of land. So, public utilities usually use these types of easements.

Is It Required to Record Easements in Gross?

Since they do not represent ownership rights, neither the land owner nor the easement owner need to record these easements in gross with any agency. An easement may be implied, which means the easement is necessary for the use and enjoyment of the property. Despite not being necessary to record the easement, each party should document the easement for the sake of safeguarding both parties.

What Is the Best Way to Avoid Any Disputes?

To avoid disputes, draft easement agreements with the assistance of an easement attorney. A written agreement should specify the purpose and duration of the easement.

Easement in Gross Rights

As long as the easement holder doesn’t cause unreasonable trouble to the property owner, he/she can use the easement in gross agreement to enjoy the benefits the contract grants.

In contrast, the owner of the land or property can use that land or property without interfering with the easement holder’s use of the rights.

When the court determines that an easement holder has imposed an unacceptable burden on the property due to the extent of the easement’s use, the property owner may resort to legal remedies.

A court can order an easement holder to limit his or her access to the property, to pay damages in case the easement holder damages the property, or to terminate the easement in gross agreement.

A court will often order the removal of an obstacle in an easement if property owners interfere with the easement holder’s rights. Easement holders may also receive compensation from the courts.

Article by Megan Thompson

Megan Thompson is a legal writer at Lawrina. Megan writes about different law practice areas, legal innovations, and shares her knowledge about her legal practice. As a graduate of the American University's Washington College of Law she is an expert of law in Lawrina's team and has a slight editing touch to all content that is published on the website.

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