An easement is a nonpossessory property right that allows one entity to use another person’s property for a specific use. Once an easement is granted, it becomes the legal right of the easement holder to have access to the property for a specific purpose and period of time as defined by state law. \n\nIn easement agreements, parties are referred to as either the dominant estate, which is the one benefitting from the easement, or the servient estate, which is the one who must give up a portion of their land to comply with the easement terms. Easements may be placed on a piece of property to access another piece of property or to allow utility companies the ability to work on a property.\nThere are a few different types of easements, though the details of each depend on the specifics of your easement agreement. Here is a breakdown of how different easements can be categorized, many of which may overlap: \n\n1. __Public easements__: Public easements allow the residents of an area to use a limited section of a person’s property such as right-of-way access to main roads or a public beach that would be otherwise inaccessible. Property or homeowners may not obstruct the public’s fair access to non-privately-owned areas under the terms of a public easement. \n2. __Private easements__: Private easement agreements are negotiated between two private property owners to mitigate personal property concerns, such as running sewer lines under their neighbor’s property or installing solar panels that may obstruct another person’s view.\n3. __Affirmative easements__: Affirmative easements are agreements that provide an easement holder with additional permissions to a piece of land, like granting them permission to fish in their neighbor’s lake or cross over their property. \n4. __Negative easements__: Negative easements limit a property owner’s use of their own land for the benefit of the easement holder. For instance, an easement may prevent a landowner from building structures that obstruct their neighbors’ view or block an electric company’s powerlines.\n5. __Easements in gross__: Easements in gross are rights that benefit the individual or company holding the easement and not the property itself. This type of easement is non-transferable and is only valid as long as the property owner or easement holder is alive. A utility easement is an example of an easement in gross. Utility companies may need access to private land to install, repair, or maintain public utility structures, which is the right of the utility company or customer rather than the land itself. \n6. __Easement appurtenant__: An easement appurtenant is a right that is attached to a specific piece of property. Landowners have a legal right to [ingress and egress](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/ingress-and-egress-explained) their own property which cannot be inhibited by another entity. An example would be a driveway easement in which Neighbor A’s home is located behind Neighbor B’s property, making Neighbor B’s driveway the only means of access that Neighbor A has to their legally owned home. The easement appurtenant would stipulate that Neighbor A has permission to use Neighbor B’s driveway to access their home, which would also extend to any new owners who purchase Neighbor A’s property after them because the easement applies to the property, not the owners.\n7. __Express easements__: Express easements are written agreements between a landowner and an individual seeking to use part of their land. Specific rights depend on the terms of the agreement, and the property owner can use their own land as they see fit as long as it does not interfere with the granted rights of the dominant estate. \n8. __Implied easements__: Implied easements imply land use rights for particular entities. For instance, stormwater drain maintenance companies have implied access to the designated piece of land for whatever upkeep and repairs are necessary. Implied easements can also apply to property that has been changed or divided. Despite the altered condition of the property, the easement holder’s use remains the same through implied, existing use.\n9. __Easements by necessity__: Easements by necessity are granted in situations like private land blocking the only access to a public road or area. These easements are granted out of necessity rather than prior use and are often provided through a court order.\n10. __Prescriptive easements__: Prescriptive easements can be either in gross or appurtenant, but they typically arise based on incidence rather than an official agreement. These easements are often referred to as adverse possession, and often happen when one person begins using another person’s property frequently for a particular purpose without permission. If the property owner doesn’t object to the person’s use of their property, they are providing consent to that use.\nYou can do a title search on your property or check a property deed to see if your property has an easement on it. Additionally, you can call your utility companies to check if they have any easements on your property. Certain easements may be a matter of public record, but other easements—such as implied easements—may not have documentation.\nEasements can impact the value or marketability of a property, though it ultimately depends on the specifics of the agreement. If easements are exceptionally strict or severely limit the use of the land by the owner, a property may become less desirable and therefore drop in value. Conversely, any benefits provided to the owner of a dominant estate that are transferable may be deemed more valuable to the next prospective owner.\nWhile the way you establish an easement specifically depends on your property needs, there are a few general tips for obtaining one: \n\n1. __Outline your needs__. Obtaining legal use of another person’s property can be a tricky endeavor. Before you seek permission from the landowner, outline exactly what you are asking for like the part of their land you want to use, the size, for what purpose, and how long. \n2. __Talk to the landowner__. Contact your neighbor or relevant property owner about establishing an easement. If the other party is willing, you may be able to negotiate reasonable terms to use their land without further issue. \n3. __Draft an agreement__. You can work with a real estate lawyer to draw up a contract that specifically outlines the terms that both property owners have agreed upon. Include any pertinent details and work with your lawyer to make sure it follows all the legal requirements regarding property transfer in your state. \n4. __Get your agreement notarized__. Have the easement agreement notarized to make it official. Notarizing the signed document can make it less likely the other party will try to back out of your agreement. \n5. __Record the easement__. If you’ve drafted a written easement, contact your Recorder of Deeds Office to see how to get the easement recorded on the property deed.\nAll you need is a [MasterClass Annual Membership](https://www.masterclass.com) and our exclusive video lessons from prolific entrepreneur Robert Reffkin, the founder and CEO of the real estate technology company Compass. With Robert’s help, you’ll learn all about the intricacies of buying a home, from securing a mortgage to hiring an agent to tips for putting your own place on the market. \nUnderstanding easements is crucial when you might need to use another person’s property for a specific purpose.