The Differences Between Covenants, Easements, and Licenses


Private parties can negotiate land use agreements that specify how an individual is legally permitted to use and enjoy the property. Covenants, easements and licenses are methods of granting certain rights in connection with the property while retaining title to the land. The agreements vary in their formality and restrictiveness, and parties can choose which type of agreement best conforms to their intended use of the land.

Easements. Easements are nonpossessory rights to use the property of another owner for a stated purpose.  Express easements are written and are usually included in a deed or a will. The creation of an express easement is governed by contract law. In contrast to express easements, implied easements can arise over time as a result of circumstances that exist between the parties and the property. Easements are generally affirmative in nature- thus, they confer the right to use the servient land in some specific manner.

Covenants. Covenants are written agreements in which the grantor promises to take or not take a certain action with respect to the land. Some covenants attach to the land and are applicable to all subsequent owners of the property. For such covenants to be enforceable, the covenant must be in writing and the new owner must receive adequate notification of the covenant. Other covenants expire when the property is transferred. Covenants typically exist in common interest developments, such as homeowners associations, to promote consistency in the appearance and operation of the development. Covenants of this nature are generally negative such that they restrict the actions and behavior of the consenting party with respect to his property. For example, in a homeowner’s association, members are subject to covenants that prohibit them from using certain paint colors or having pets in the home.

Licenses. A license grants permission to a third party to use the property for a specific purpose.  Unlike an easement, the license granted to the licensee may be revoked at the discretion of the licensor unless the license is set forth in a written contract with a specified termination date. The exception to this rule exists when a licensee makes significant expenditures in reliance on the use granted by the license. In such a case, the license resembles an easement more than a license and can be deemed irrevocable.

The experienced team of attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, P.C. can help you litigate your real estate claims. Contact Mark Weinstein and his colleagues at (770) 888-7707 or visit them at to find out how they can advise you.

Previous Post
Restrictions on the Rights of an Easement Grantor
If You Have a Real Estate or Business Law Issue You Need Help With, Don’t Wait. Contact Us and Schedule a Consultation.
Font Resize