What Is an Easement in Gross?

When you purchase real estate property, you might assume that you have sole rights to use the land as you wish. However, this is not always the case. Easements are rights held by others to use a portion of your land or to use your land in a specified manner. Easements in gross are the most common types of easements in the United States.

Tips

  • An easement in gross grants certain rights to use your property to others who do not have ownership rights to your property, including utility companies.

Easement in Gross Definition

An easement in gross is a right to the use of your property held by a person or company that does not possess an ownership right to the property. The entity holding an easement in gross continues to maintain its right to use the land for a specified purpose even if the real estate is sold or transferred to another owner.

Easement in Gross Examples

Utility easements are among the most common types of easements in gross in the United States. A utility easement permits a utility company to enter your property to maintain or service equipment necessary to maintain the supply of electricity, natural gas, telephone service or television cable service, either to your property or to nearby properties.

Pipeline easements also commonly burden the property -- these easements allow pipeline owners to access buried water and sewage pipes running through your property to service or upgrade the pipes. A land conservation easement, which prevents you from taking certain actions such as cutting down trees or removing minerals from the soil, also is an easement in gross.

Differences from Appurtenant Easements

An easement in gross differs from an appurtenant easement in that an easement in gross is not held by a dominant estate. In an appurtenant easement, the owner of a neighboring property may hold the right to use part of your land -- for example, a neighboring landowner may hold an easement that allows him to cross your property to access a public roadway.

An appurtenant easement also "suns with the land", meaning that it can be transferred by will or deed. Conversely, the owner of a property burdened by an easement in gross cannot actively transfer rights to the easement.

Creation of Easement in Gross

An easement in gross may be created by implication, which means that the easement is necessary for the use and enjoyment of the land. Utility easements are commonly created by implication. You also may grant an easement in gross to a person or company. A person or company that uses your property may also reserve an easement in gross by showing that it has historically used your land for a specific purpose. Unlike ownership rights, easements in gross do not have to be recorded.