Is it a License or is it an Easement? How to Tell.

Real Estate Law

In real estate law, the legal concepts of “licenses” and “easements” can easily be confused. While both concepts refer to another’s use of your land, they are not the same thing. In today’s post we will touch on some of the differences between a license and an easement.

Licenses.

When it comes to real property, a “license” gives an individual permission to “use” your land in some way. It gives that person permission to do a particular act (for example, cut timber) or series of acts on your property. A license can be:

  • Express or implied
  • Written or oral
  • With or without consideration (generally some form of payment)

A license is a personal right. In other words, it can only be used by the person it is granted to (the licensee). It cannot be transferred to someone else and it can be revoked. It is this feature of the ability of the licensor (person granting the license) to terminate it at will that distinguishes a license from an easement.  Licenses do not run with the land. That means that if the land is transferred to a new owner, the license given to use the land will not transfer with it.

Another thing about a license is that because a license is a permissive use of land, it can never ripen into a prescriptive easement – regardless of how long the use is continued.

Finally, a license generally does not carry any enforceable rights with it.

Easements.

Easements, on the other hand, gives the person granted the easement certain property rights or interests. Unlike a license, an easement:

  • Is an interest in, or right of use over property of another;
  • Can be particular to one person (“in gross”) or applicable to a class of persons;
  • Must be in writing (unless it is one by prescription or implication);
  • Can run with the land;
  • Can last forever (in perpetuity).

The major difference between an easement and a license is that an easement carries with it certain property rights. It gives a person or entity a right or interest in using the property of another. Common examples of easements include a driveway over one person’s land to reach another parcel, or a utility easement to allow a power company to put up and maintain powerlines. Easements are created with more formality than licenses. They can last forever (if so granted) and generally run with the land, which means that when the land is transferred to a new owner, the easement remains in place and is not lost.

If you own property, it is important to understand the differences between a license and an easement. In Georgia, consult experienced real estate counsel.

Handling Real Estate Matters in Georgia.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, P.C, have experience in all aspects of real estate. We are based in Cumming, Georgia, but we serve Atlanta and the surrounding counties.  Give us a call at: 770-888-7707. Or you can contact us here.

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