What Rights do I have for Building on an Easement Property

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“I have an Easement on my land that specifically states for ingress and egress purpose to a land locked piece of land. The location of the easement lies in an area that one can only access the land locked land by foot. My question is, what can I do and what can I not do with that land that belongs to me? Can I erect a building, On the Easement, that dose not hinder the travel to and from the land locked land or can I not? Dose the person that owns the easement have the right to make a road way or cut trees for a path? Dose the easement owner have the right to drive or park a vehicle on the easement property?”

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

Exactly what you can and cannot do with a particular easement is always a question of fact. However, assuming that this is not an exclusive easement (the granting document would specifically say that, if it were), I can try to give you some general guidance.

As a general rule, the owner of the burdened property (you, in this case) can do pretty much anything with a non-exclusive easement so long as it does not interfere with the easement owner’s use of the easement.

In this case, you have an easement for ingress and egress (that is, your neighbor has the right to enter and exit his property by going across yours). So you could not do anything that would interfere with that. It’s hard to imagine a building that would not interfere with someone walking, but I suppose if there were one it might be okay–again, this is a very fact-specific question.

Ideally, the easement document should specify what kind of improvements the easement owner can put in, and who is responsible for maintenance. If not, your local law will have some default guidelines on these points. In many places, the rule of thumb is that the easement owner can maintain but not improve (for example, replacing gravel on a gravel road is maintenance; replacing gravel with cement is improvement), and the easement owner is usually responsible for some or all of the maintenance costs, usually depending on how and to what extent the other owner uses the easement.

Additional uses, such as parking, are probably not permitted–again, consult your local law–but if the easement merely states “ingress and egress,” the owner could certainly argue that this is commonly understood to include ordinary passenger cars.



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Author: House Attorney

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