What Are Your Rights Regarding an Easement or Right of Way on Your Property?

If your property contains an easement or a right-of-way, your rights depend on the type of easement and your state laws, according to Nolo. Generally, the property owner has the right to do anything that does not interfere with the easement, says FindLaw.

An easement gives someone who does not own the property a right to use the property in a specific way, notes FindLaw. The burdened property is called the “servient estate,” while the land or person the easement benefits is the “dominant estate.” An “easement in gross” gives the right-of-way to a specific person or organization, says Nolo. These easements are generally not transferable. An “easement appurtenant” benefits another plot of land and runs with the land, regardless of who owns it.

An easement holder may use the easement in any reasonable manner, notes FindLaw. This provides broad latitude for the easement holder. The courts have permitted such things as cutting trees, installing a high-pressured gas line in place of a low-pressured gas line and changing a railroad right-of-way to a nature trail. If the easement holder’s use is not reasonable and the servient estate is unduly burdened, courts can restrict the use of the easement to the intended use, provide monetary damages to the servient estate or even dissolve the easement.

The owner of the servient estate must be careful not to interfere with the easement, cautions FindLaw. Interfering with an easement is trespass, which may result in monetary penalties.