Whether your land burdened with an easement or your land holds an easement over someone else’s land, you may be wondering how easements work in New York. An easement is a legal right to use another person’s land for a particular purpose. An easement does not grant the easement holder any right of ownership over the land but is restricted to the use of the land strictly for that purpose.
Typically, easements are granted to travel through land of another to access another land, such as an easement of right of way. For example, when a land that is purchased is landlocked, meaning it is surrounded by other lands with no access to a public road, an easement of necessity of a right of way may be granted by the court to allow that land access to a public road.
Thus, that land (the “dominant estate”) will be granted a right of way to cross another person’s land (the “servient estate”) for that particular purpose of accessing the public road. This easement is strictly construed and only grants the easement holder the use of that land for travel from one place to another and for no other purpose.
This strict construction arises from the fact that the law favors the unrestricted use of one’s property. Thus, the easement holder cannot, one day, plant vegetables, put a fence, beautify, or do any other act of possession or ownership on the property covered by the easement, except for that particular purpose granted to him under the easement. When an easement holder does an act that is not an authorized purpose under the grant of the easement, it will be considered trespass.
Most issues regarding easement relate to trespass, abuse and misuse of easement, interference with one’s use of the easement, encroachment termination, abandonment, and damages.
Types of easements
How easements work in New York depends on how they were created or to whom they were granted. For example, easements are created by prescription, by necessity, or by agreement.
When one uses another person’s land for a particular purpose under claim of right with the owner’s knowledge openly, exclusively, notoriously, and continuously for the statutory period, that use can ripen to an easement by prescription. An easement by necessity is an implied easement declared by the court as existing when there is a need for such easement, such as when a property is surrounded by other land with no means of accessing a public road.
Terminating an easement depends on the type of easement. An easement by necessity can be terminated when the need no longer exists. For easements created by agreement, however, it can only be terminated by adverse possession or prescription, by release, by abandonment, or the merger of the servient estate owner and dominant estate owner in one person.
Easements may also be granted to a dominant estate, which runs with the land and is not affected by transfer of ownership, called “easement appurtenant” or to a particular person, which runs with the person and is extinguished upon the death of a person, called “gross easement.”
An example of an easement appurtenant is the easement of right of way described above.
An example of a gross easement, which was more popular in the olden times, is an easement to hike over one’s land or to fish in one’s lake. These types of easements are usually granted to one person and are extinguished upon that person’s death. They are not so commonly granted anymore in current times.
The issues relating to how easements work in New York today relate to its existence, its use and abuse, and termination. Easements restrict a landowner’s use of his own property and can lower its value. For this reason, many property owners who learn about the existence of an easement in their property may find ways of terminating it.
Should you have any issues regarding easements, whether you are the easement holder or the property owner whose property is burdened by the easement, we at the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin are here for you. We have offices in New York, NY, Brooklyn, NY and Queens, NY. You can call us at 718-509-9774 or send us an email at email@example.com.