An easement is a non-possessory right to use property owned by another person for a specific purpose. An easement does not allow the holder of the easement to exclude the owner or others from the property that is subject to the easement, but does give the right to access and use the property that is subject to the easement whenever necessary to accomplish the purpose of the easement. Typically, easements will be limited in size to reflect the actual property that is necessary to accomplish the specific purpose. Buildings should never be constructed within an easement, as the holder of the easement can require that structures that interfere with the easement be removed at the property owner’s expense. Easements are said to “run with the land,” meaning that the sale of the property does not affect the validity of the easement. Easements may also be transferred by the easement holder.
Easements can be for a variety of purposes, including pipelines, access, driveways and utilities. Most residential properties are subject to easements benefitting the City and/or utility companies that provide service to the property. These Easements are typically limited to a strip of land somewhere between three feet (3’) and ten feet (10’) in width along the rear or side of the residential lot and may be underground, surface or aerial in nature. The holder of these utility easements may access the easement property to install, repair and maintain utility and sewer lines located within the easement property, which can mean damage to landscaping, patios or other improvements located within the easement property.
Based on the recent trend in zero lot line building, the City of Houston has started requiring builders who are building within three feet (3’) of a lot line to obtain an easement from the neighboring property for the purpose of maintenance to the new building. The same principals apply to these maintenance easements.
If you would like to use a knowledgeable title company conveniently located in the Heights, please give us a call. Fidelity National Title, 1512 Heights Blvd., Houston, TX 77008 (713) 529-8800.