Common Easements Affecting a Property

In many cases, there are restrictions on the usage of a property. Often parts of the property aren’t owned at all and this can come as a surprise to a buyer or builder.  Sometimes, years after purchasing a property, the owner decides to build a building or make other improvements only to then discover that it can’t be built due to legal restrictions on a property. Although not always top of mind, surveyors really should be one of the first firms you call to determine how much land there is and if there are any easements, setbacks or restrictions. 

How can this happen?

All properties have what is known as “easements”. Easements are designations that legally allow the city, public or utility companies  limited access to portions of a property.

However, it is important for the property owner to understand that even on easements you have reserved rights to use the land and deny access to individuals except for these easement holders. The individuals or entities that are allowed access you your property are known as “dominant estate”. The property owner who must share their property is known as “servient estate”.

Easements that commonly affect property owners

There are countless types of easements throughout the world, however here are the most common that can affect a property owner who wants to build or remodel on their land.

Utility Easements

In most cases, utility companies have access to your property above and below ground for maintenance or repair purposes. Utilities easement types include sanitary sewer, telephone, electric, gas, cable and more.

Drainage Easements

Typically, the city has limited rights of access and use of a property. In these areas, improvements are not allowed and are recommended to refrain from planting trees or landscaping. Drainage easements provide areas for storm water to flow or may be needed for access to the drainage infrastructures.


A right-of-way allows the public, access to your property such as sidewalk or driveway easements.

Sidewalk Easements

Amongst the most common, sidewalk easements typically allow the public access through the a property. Even when there is not a physical pavement in place, there still may be an easement in place.

Driveway Easements

When constructing on a lot, some properties do not border a road. In this case, an easement is created to provide road access through another lot.


When it comes to building an improvement near or in an easement there is some flexibility that a property owner is granted. However, dealing with these regulations can be burdensome. It is best to fully understand a property’s easement locations prior to purchasing or building on a property.

To determine the easements of a property one can look at the title documents received when the property was purchased or by ordering a survey. As surveyors, we specialize in the exact determination of property boundaries and any easements on those properties.

When you need a professional survey, trust Windrose Land Surveying & Platting to deliver accurately and on time.