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The Difference Between An Easement & A Boundary – Property

  • 3 min read

In real estate, the term “property boundary” refers to the outer edges of a property, defining where your ownership begins and someone else’s ends. Whether it’s a neatly squared lot or an irregular shape, knowing your boundaries is crucial. This not only determines what you own but also dictates where you can build structures. Regulations often set boundaries, impacting the construction and placement of structures like houses and septic tanks.

Navigating Setbacks: The Regulatory Challenge
Many counties and jurisdictions enforce setbacks, restricting building within a certain distance from your property boundary. This regulation extends to septic tanks and other structures. Understanding your boundaries is essential for any construction plan, as failure to comply with setbacks can pose challenges, even if you have ample space.

Erecting Structures and Fences: The Boundary in Action
The knowledge of your property boundaries becomes particularly significant when considering the installation of structures like fences, sheds, or any additional construction. Beyond determining ownership, it sheds light on the available space for your desired additions and provides a clear picture of your lot’s size.

Deciphering Easements: Shared Rights Within Boundaries
On the other hand, an “easement” is a deeded right to use someone else’s property within the boundaries of your property. Unlike boundaries, easements grant specific usage permissions. Utility easements, for instance, allow companies to access and maintain power lines, often running through your property. These easements may also extend to water pipes, sewers, or even city maintenance requirements.

Utility Easements: Power Lines and Water Pipes
Utility easements are a common example, where electric and water companies have the right to access, maintain, and repair their infrastructure within your property boundaries. Understanding these easements is crucial, as they might restrict your ability to build or make certain changes within the designated area.

Navigating City Easements: Balancing Private Property with Public Access
City easements can also play a role, granting authorities rights to access and maintain areas in front of your property for road maintenance or other municipal needs. This type of easement ensures a balance between private property ownership and public requirements.

Neighborly Easements: A Potential Challenge
Easements aren’t always with public entities; they can involve neighbors. Your property might have an easement allowing a neighbor access to your land. This could be a driveway easement or an access easement, presenting both advantages and challenges, especially if disputes arise or maintenance becomes an issue.

View Easements: Aesthetic Restrictions on Your Property
In certain regions, view easements may limit construction height within a specific area to preserve scenic views enjoyed by neighbors. These restrictions, often detailed in the deed, emphasize the importance of understanding all aspects of easements before purchasing a property.

Buying Property: A Cautionary Note on Easements
Before purchasing a property, it’s crucial to identify and understand any existing easements. Easements, unlike boundaries, may encroach on your property, affecting your rights and responsibilities. Even if you didn’t agree to them, easements stay with the property, and you become responsible for adhering to their terms, which may sometimes involve financial contributions.

Legal Guidance: When in Doubt, Seek Professional Advice
In the complex realm of property ownership, understanding the difference between easements and boundaries is essential. If things get intricate, seeking legal advice from an attorney can provide clarity on your rights, responsibilities, and potential challenges related to property boundaries and easements.

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