How Long Does an Easement Last?


Understanding easements isn’t always easy. What they are, and how they are created can be a bit complicated. It is common for easements to not only lead to confusion, but legal conflict as well.

Easement Basics

An easement is a non-possessory interest in property. It is a property right that gives the owner of the easement an interest in land that is owned by someone else. You may have heard of utility easements or of driveway easements.

An easement doesn’t allow the easement holder to occupy the land or to exclude others from it—unless they interfere with the easement holder’s use. The owner of the land that the easement is on, can continue to use the easement and can exclude everyone except the easement holder from the land.

The land that is affected by the easement is called the “servient estate” and is said to be “burdened” by the easement. The land or portion of the land that benefits from the easement is known as the “dominant estate.” Most easements benefit a particular piece of land. When they do, they are said to be “appurtenant” to the land.  Appurtenant easements will run with the land, meaning they will be transferred with the land if the land is transferred or sold.

An easement can also benefit a particular person. These easements are called easements “in gross.” If the land burdened by the easement in gross is sold or transferred, the easement will not go with it because it is personal to the individual granted the easement.

Easements can be created in several ways. Georgia recognizes 4 different ways an easement can be created.

But how long do easements last and how can they be terminated?

Termination of Easements

Unless the documents that create the easement say otherwise, the court will assume that the easement was created to last forever. That means that generally, easements are considered to be permanent unless the documents indicate otherwise.

There are some easements, however, that are of limited duration. Construction easements are one example of a limited easement. Construction easements are granted to provide temporary access to a dominant estate during construction.

Easements can be terminated in several ways. For example, if the user abandons the easement (as specified by law), it will terminate. Easements can also terminate as a result of condemnation of the land by a public authority.

Going Beyond the Basics

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