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Easements may complicate your real estate deal

Whenever you consider leasing or buying a property, it is always important to understand any easements that another party may hold. In simple terms, an affirmative easement is a right to use a piece of property in a certain way, and a negative easement is a restriction against using property in a certain way.

If you have plans to alter a piece of property to meet your needs, an easement may keep you from doing so, possibly undoing all the advantages of obtaining the property in the first place. If, for instance, some other party has an affirmative easement to retain access to a road on a parcel of land that you want to develop, it may mean that you cannot develop some or all of your vision, because to do so would violate the other party's right. Similarly, if you want to build a collection of multistory dwelling on a piece of property, a negative easement may restrict you from building any structure more than one story tall.

Should you run into an easement issue while considering a lease or purchase, you may have more options than you think. Easements are not magically held in place forever and may be removed if you can justify the removal and satisfy the requirements of the law and the holding party.

Regardless of your real estate needs, it is always important to do the due diligence necessary to identify any standing easement before entering into a contract over a property. This kind of mistake could be disastrous for your goals, so make sure to use the full strength of the law to keep your rights and priorities secure as you consider any commercial lease or purchase.

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  1. Charles W. Dobbins, Jr.

    Charles earned his J.D. degree from the University of Virginia in 1974

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