An easement is a right enjoyed by a landowner over another person’s land which binds successors in title.
Usually speaking, most easements are positive, which means they give you the right to do something, examples of easements include a right of way, a right to light and a right for drainage or other service media to pass over or under land. However, there can be negative easements preventing you from doing something.
There are different ways in which easements can be formed:
- Express easements: some easements are expressed in documents, for example in deeds.
- Implied easements: An easement will only be implied if it is necessary to imply it, the parties had a common intention at the time of the sale of the land that there would be an easement, by operation of section 62 of the Law of Property Act 1925 or by the rules set out in the long standing case of Wheeldon v Burrows (1879) 12 Ch D 31. Examples of implied easements include ‘necessity’ (for example, if the land would be landlocked without access over someone else’s land).
- Easement by prescription: this arises where a right has been exercised over another piece of land for a long period of time without the land owners permission.
It is not always harmful to have an easement over your property, but it certainly will depend on the type of easement and, in particular in relation to an express easement, the wording of that easement. Some easements could impact the value of your property or put off potential purchasers. You should certainly look at whether there are any easements which might restrict potential development, if you intend to develop the land.
It could be possible to bring an easement to an end and there are various ways to do this, which could include an express release by Deed agreed between the land owners, or by way of implied release. Implied release however can be very difficult to prove; you must be able to show significant non-use of the easement.
*This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.