What are easements?

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Always check the title when buying a property. This is done by a conducting a title search of the property. This article is focused on a small part of a title search – easements.

The Auckland District Law Society standard form of Agreement for Sale and Purchase allows a purchaser 10 working days to confirm acceptance of title.

An easement is the right to use another person’s property for a specific purpose without actually owning it. The most common easements are right-of-way, right to transmit electricity and telecommunications, right to drain water and the right to drain sewage.

The two parties to an easement are the “Servient tenement” and the “Dominant tenement”. The Servient tenement is the land over which the easement is registered and the Dominant tenement is the land which has the benefit of the easement.

Easements are created by an easement instrument. This instrument sets out the terms and conditions of the easement. For example if the easement is for the purpose of a right-of-way the easement instrument will include terms such as whom is to pay for any maintenance costs of the right of way.

Issues can arise where easements are not in place. For example there may be properties which have easements in place for telecommunications which may have been registered prior to 1990. With the subsequent development of the internet the current easement may not allow for multi media purposes or fibre optic cabling.

When purchasing a property it is important to ensure that all necessary easements are in place.