Before purchasing a property, buyers examine the property for any potential concerns. Potential buyers hire a home inspector who makes sure the property is in working order and points out any impending repairs. Buyers will also check for easements against the property.

An easement is a legal order that allows another party to use property they do not own. Utility companies often have easements against many properties, allowing them legal access to read meters. Understanding the different types of easements enable buyers to make an informed decision.

Courts recognize several types of easements

Easements come in a few different categories to serve different purposes. Florida real estate shoppers may encounter these types of easements:

  • Express: An express easement must be in writing, like a deed or will. These easements pop up when transferring land; the original owner holds a parcel back for the intended use.
  • Implied: Implied easements do not require anything in writing and usually arise from splitting property. Examples of implied easements include a shared driveway or a private beach — something that was in use before the sale.
  • Prescriptive: These easements allow someone other than the property owner a legal right to use a parcel of land. A court will award a prescriptive easement if the possession is obvious, intently used (like farmed land) and used for at least seven years.
  • Preservation or conservation: These easements protect historically or environmentally important land from adverse development. Property owners can receive a tax benefit for these easements.

Each of these types of easements can also be positive or negative. Positive easements allow usage while negative easements prevent.

Bring questions about easements to a lawyer

People shopping for real estate in Florida find more success working with a local attorney familiar with Florida real estate laws. A lawyer can review all sale paperwork, help identify potentially troublesome easements and help make an informed decision.