If you are shopping for Florida real estate, you may be curious about the term “easement.” This legal arrangement allows an individual or business to use part of a property for a specific purpose. Various types of easements apply to different types of personal and commercial real estate purchases.

Learn more about how easements work before you move forward with this type of transaction.

Understanding types of easements

When you buy a home or commercial property, it may have an existing easement. This written contract indicates who can use a designated portion of your land and details the circumstances that permit use. Examples include:

  • The owner of a property that abuts your land has an easement that provides vehicle access to the nearest public road. This is common in rural areas where homeowners may not be able to directly access public roads from their own land.
  • The local cable company and utility agencies have an easement to run a cable on your land. This type of easement typically designates a 15-to-20-foot strip of land.
  • You have a coastal or low-lying home with risk for flooding. The township has a drainage easement to run pipes through a portion of your land.

Florida also allows prescriptive easements. Although these agreements do not exist in writing, ongoing use establishes their legal legitimacy. In Florida, this type of easement takes effect only after 20 years of use.

Mitigating the impact of easements

If you are looking at a property with an easement, you must get the easement agreement in writing. This applies whether a third party will be accessing your property or you are buying a property that requires a road access easement. Have a professional land survey that determines your property boundaries and indicates the boundary lines of the access (ingress or egress) easement.

Buying or selling a property with an undocumented easement can lead to significant complications. Formalizing an easement agreement before any real estate transaction can help preserve your land’s value.