An easement is an interest in land or property either by implication or expressly set out in writing. There are different kinds of easements: some allowing utilities to use property, some allowing one owner of adjacent land to use another owner’s property to be able to come and go on property. Sometimes easements involve several property owners and may “run with the land,” meaning that it makes no difference who owns the property. Once property is considered burdened with the easement and the other property benefits from the easement.
Disputes can arise regarding overuse of an easement, repair and maintenance of an easement and creating new easements. The older the land and the easement, the stronger the possibility that there will be disputes regarding repairs, use and expansion of the easement. Sometimes the written document effecting the easement does not provide for repairs and limitations on use. This can create disputes between the users of the easement and the property owner on whose land the easement burdens.
Some easements can be acquired using the same analysis as adverse possession claims but the user of the easement must again meet certain requirements to be successful in the claim.
Easements should be distinguished from other forms of legitimate uses of another’s property done with permission. For example, a user might have a “license” to use another’s land or be permitted to harvest crops. These are not considered easement interests.