What Property Owners Need to Know About Drainage Easements

Property Owners, Real Estate Law

When purchasing a home it is important to determine whether any easements exist that encumber your land. Easements grant a third party (“easement holder”) a non-possessory interest in your land. Utility easements are maintained by utility companies for the benefit of other properties and restrict the owner’s use of the land in several ways, such as preventing the creation of permanent structures. The existence of a drainage easement on your property may have an impact on several aspects of home ownership including insurance premiums, the mortgage lender’s willingness to provide a loan for the purchase and future construction plans.

Drainage easements are typically found in areas where flooding or excessive water accumulation presents a significant concern, such as communities on higher elevations or properties near bodies of water. A drainage easement is designed to isolate a parcel of land for the purpose of collecting and transporting water from the surrounding neighborhood streets through a designated drainage infrastructure. Even so, the owner of the property upon which the easement is located is required to maintain and pay taxes on the property as if it was exclusively utilized maintained for his use. Maintenance obligations may be onerous; for example, property owners must preserve the slope of the land to ensure proper drainage. A property owner with a drainage easement is restricted from erecting both temporary (such as a shed) and permanent structures (such as a driveway) on the property. The easement holder also has the right to take reasonable action to preserve the easement, which could be destructive to the owner’s property.

In addition to the restrictions on an owner’s use of personal property, a drainage easement may have other adverse consequences with respect to obtaining insurance and a loan. First, insurance companies may be hesitant to insure a property that contains a drainage easement or may be more susceptible to drainage issues. Homeowners insurance is generally a prerequisite to obtain a mortgage for affected properties. Homeowners must identify an insurance company that will be willing to insure the property. Homes with drainage easements may also be required to obtain additional insurance to address flood risks. A property with a right to an easement means that an easement holder/utility company may encumber the property in the future. The possibility of a future encumbrance could present an unacceptable risk to a mortgage lender if the easement right is extensive.

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 https://www.markweinsteinlaw.com to find out how they can advise you.

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