Many posts on this blog discuss situations in which home and business owners lose their property to eminent domain claims from the government or a private entity. However, there are also situations in which the government can access or use private property without actually acquiring it.
This is an easement. An easement grants a party the right to use land owned by another person for specific reasons. For instance, the government might seek an easement to dig and bury pipelines, construct sidewalks or build a library. Parties that obtain an easement do not own the land, but they can access it for their purposes.
In California, there are four ways easements are created.
Easements can affect property value, and property owners should receive fair compensation for the other party’s use of the land. Valuing an easement is difficult, but there are ways to get a rough idea of an easement’s value.
As discussed in this article, property owners should appraise the whole property without the easement first. Then appraise the property again, this time factoring in the burden of an easement. Consider any value or encumbrances, as well as any elements that interfere with use or otherwise impairs value.
Subtract the second appraised value from the first appraisal, and that can represent an estimated value of the easement.
Property owners faced with a proposed easement would be wise to understand their legal options and rights. This includes protecting land and securing fair compensation. To do this, it can be wise to consult an experienced attorney.