What is a Utility Easement?

Utility-easementsEven though you own the property on which your home rests, the utility companies in the area might have the right to use parts of it. When you purchased your home might be a utility easement on the property.

This is the case for many properties that are connected to a city power grid, sewer or water system.

What Are Utility Easements

Utility easements are areas of a property that were defined for use by utility companies when the property was first put on a plat. They are designated for overhead electric, telephone and television lines and underground electric, water, sewer, telephone, and cable lines.

While it is rare to have multiple utility easements on a property, water lines and electrical lines do, in some cases, run along different easements.

Why Do Utility Easements Exist?

Utility easements exist for the good of the community. It is much cheaper and more efficient to run utility lines in straight lines through neighborhoods than it is to run them around individual parcels of land.

Easements allow utility companies to keep costs down by significantly reducing the amount of raw materials needed to provide service to the community. With fewer feet of line to maintain, maintenance costs are also significantly lower.

Do Easements Effect Property Use?

Utility EasementsUtility easements don’t mean that utility companies can do whatever they want, it just means that they have the right to use the area in a way that is advantageous to the community as a whole.

This means they do have the right to put up utility poles or put in underground lines. But an easement also means that there are certain things that you, as the property owner, cannot do to your own property.

If an easement allows for utility lines to be put across the front of your yard, you may not be allowed to plant tall growing trees in the easement area because of the interference they may cause. If there are already trees there, the utility company can trim them in any fashion they need to make sure the utility lines are not compromised. Similarly, if there are underground lines running through an easement you wouldn’t be able to put in an in-ground pool.

Key Takeaways

  • Utility easements are areas of land that are privately owned but can be used by utility companies for utility poles or underground lines.
  • Easements exist to keep utility costs down for all members of the community.
  • Easements may result in you not being able to plant certain trees or build certain amenities on specified areas of your property.

9 thoughts on “What is a Utility Easement?

  1. Avatar
    Christina Saucier Reply

    I really need some advice. My in laws own a acre of property. On the front right property and up the whole left side of the property is a utility easement. The front easement has not been used since purchase of property 30+ years ago. The easement up the left side of the property is and always has been a 15 foot ditch for rain flow. Adjacent to the left side of the property was all wooden and undeveloped. It has now all been cleared for new subdivision. The city of Biloxi Mississippi contracted out the project and gave permission to use from utility easement to lay sewer and water. My dispute with whole issue is now they are trying to turn easement into a access road to new subdivision. This easement is not a right away, only utility. Also the city of Biloxi Mississippi moved the public power pole off the easement and replaced it with a new pole on to now property property. About 2 feet of the easement. Documentation the city and contactors summited for federal approval has no mention of putting utilities on our easement. It was supposed to be connected to the east side of the new subdivision. We are located in West. We were never notified of the project and the need for our easement until work was already started. It has been 1 year with little help from professionals. Seeking advice.

    • Adam Hoffman
      Adam Hoffman Post authorReply

      Christina,
      This is more a legal question so I would advise to find a good local real estate attorney and he or she can advise.
      They may request you do a survey to clarify the matter.
      Thanks

  2. Avatar
    Christina Saucier Reply

    Thank you! Do you suggest a real estate/land attorney or just do civil attorney? The damages have already been done.

    • Adam Hoffman
      Adam Hoffman Post authorReply

      I think I would start with the civil attorney NF he needs help on the real estate side I’m sure he has resources as well

    • Adam Hoffman
      Adam Hoffman Post authorReply

      It really depends on the language in the easement deed. So I would check with a real estate attorney in Michigan.

  3. Avatar
    Vivian Reply

    Thanks Adam. In 1971 there was an Easement given to the County Works. We bought our home in 1987, but the County Works failed to record this Easement for 22 years, so it was NOT recorded/disclosed when purchased our home in 1987. Then, in 1994 the Easement was sold/transferred to the City, but we were never notified. We just found out this Easement existed this August 2019 after the City did construction on it and built off the allege Easement. The City damaged our land, killing trees, dumped sewer waste, dumped debris (all on video), as well as, blocking us access to our lot by putting up a guardrail. We are extremely frustrated and want to know if this alleged Easement is even legal.

  4. Avatar
    Austin Saunders Reply

    It’s cool that utility easements help make their installation cheaper since they can run in straight lines. My brother has been telling me about how he wants to get some plumbing run to his new home soon. I’ll share this information with him so that he can look into his options for professionals who can help him with this.

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