An easement refers to an interest owned by a non-owner in a real estate property. These are fairly common in Alabama and may exist without the property owner being aware of them. However, if one exists, it needs to be conveyed by a contract or deed. A seasoned real estate attorney can help you uncover any easements on a particular property before you purchase it.
Transfer of Easement During Property Sale in Alabama
Easements form part and parcel of the affected land. They remain on the land even when the property changes hands. As a subsequent owner, you will be obliged to let the easement owner use the property for any intended purpose. This makes it vital to determine the exact easements on a property before finalizing the purchase.
There are several ways of figuring this. The best one is to hire a capable real estate attorney in Alabama that can find out about the easements. Generally, title papers prepared by the insurance company list the prevalent easements on a property.
Effect of Utility Easements on Property Transfer
These are the most common type of easements and may not necessarily have an impact on your day-to-day life. You can live on the property, plant on it, and build on it, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the utility’s use of the easement. These easements get transferred to the new property owner on sale.
You should call the utility company if you want to know whether there are any easements on the property. You can also ask the city hall or county land records office for a map of all easement locations.
Effect of Private Easements on Property Transfer
Property owners can sell the easement to someone else. This can be a neighbor or someone else in the form of a driveway, path, sewer, or solar access. It’s essential that you get copies of the actual easement documents where private easements are concerned. This will give you a clear idea about the type and extent of easements.
For instance, if the previous property owner gave solar access easement to a neighbor, it may severely limit your options to build or grow on the property. Being unaware of the terms of the private easement may result in you unknowingly interfering with the easement rights. You may be held liable for any damages as well.
Don’t forget to get the reference number of the private easement from the original owner. You can check local public records at the county clerk’s office and obtain a copy of the easement.
Effect of Easements by Necessity on Property Transfer
A legal easement can exist if it is an absolute necessity. This is even if there is no written agreement. For instance, you can’t block your neighbor’s access to their property if the only way through is by crossing your property.
This is termed “easement by necessity.” You should make sure you ask about such easements since they cannot be removed. Landowners cannot interfere with the neighbor’s legal right if there is such an easement on the land.
It is important that you consult with an experienced attorney to determine if there are any easements by necessity on the property. Your attorney will also be able to advise on the extent of interference on your property rights by the easement.
Effect of Prescriptive Easement on Property Ownership Rights
A prescriptive easement is similar to an easement by necessity, except the person needs to use another’s land openly and continuously for a particular purpose. Prescriptive easement and adverse possession have several similarities. However, payment of property taxes is not required.
In addition, there can be more than one person with rights to a prescriptive easement. For instance, there may be a path on the land that people use as a shortcut or a driveway on another’s land. The best way of preventing prescriptive easement is to grant written permission for the use of the property. Prescriptive easements are inherited with the property.
Avoiding Legal Disputes over Easements in Alabama
Easements are more common than you would think in the world of real estate law. In many cases, these are avoidable, especially where easements by necessity and utility easements are concerned. You should consult with an attorney as soon as possible if you are having legal concerns regarding an easement. The same holds true if you are in the process of negotiating an easement.
Legal battles over the transfer of easements and other rights can drag on for several months or years and become a costly and stressful affair. Your attorney will take the necessary steps to help you preempt the situation. An experienced real estate attorney will provide you with the legal guidance and advice you need to have a smooth purchase and transfer of property.
Get an Experienced Real Estate Attorney on Your Side
The real estate attorneys at the BHM Law Group have extensive experience, knowledge, and resources to resolve your concerns, provide you with the right legal guidance, and suggest the most judicious ways to move forward. To schedule your complimentary consultation with our legal team, call us at (205) 964-9764 or fill out this online contact form.