Short Guide to Land Easements in Arizona

Sellers, buyers, and renters of land may encounter specific portions of potential or occupied properties that are called easements. Easements are legally defined sections of land that are used by others for driveways, logging roads, and other purposes. Here's a short guide to land easements in Arizona.


There Are Two Distinct Classes of Easements

Easements in gross and easements appurtenant are the two classifications of most land easements. An in-gross easement doesn't attach to the land or an individual, but only benefits a specific person or entity. For example, if you need access to a landlocked homesite, your neighbor can grant you an in-gross easement to a section of driveway on their land.


As an in-gross easement, only you and your family or agents can use the driveway. Your in-gross easement typically expires when you die or sell the land.


Easements appurtenant are those easements which do transfer with the land. Generally, the easement appurtenant attaches to the land from owner to owner and grants the right to use adjoining property in perpetuity.


Parcels in Easements Are Given Specific Names

In the land-title documents and property deeds, each land parcel in an easement clause has a designation to make it clear which land is benefiting from the use of the other parcel's real estate.


The land that gets to use part of the adjoining property's real estate is called the dominant tenement. The property dominates by being allowed access to land that's not part of its own property parcel.


The land that has to acquiesce and share part of its real estate to benefit the neighboring property is called the servient tenement. It must serve the adjoining property.


Easements Are Specific and Circumstantial

If you gain an easement through another property to access your new homestead, you can't sell parcels of your land and grant new easements to new landholders yourself. You also can't start a trucking business and use the road for semitruck traffic.


Your easement clause spells out the specific people and uses of the road by you and others. If you abuse an easement clause or fail to honor an easement on your property, you could suffer financial penalties, lose the easement altogether, or have a court decide how an easement should be defined.


Arizona law recognizes easements that are expressly defined in property deeds, property sales contracts, and other written agreements. Implied easements are recognized in situations where it's clear the creators of easements or owners of property intended for the easements to stand. Easements by prescription may also be established if a person openly used another person's property for at least 10 years.


Paperwork Is Required to Create or Refine Easements

There are a host of reasons why a person in Arizona needs an easement. You may need to use a section of someone's land to stage trucks to cut your trees. Or you might need to install drainage lines on the edge of an adjacent piece of property. You may also want to grant a conservation easement to your state or community. Or you want to grant access to horse riders and hikers on a section of your land.


For any type of easement, legal documentation is required. If you want a right-of-way on Arizona State Trust property, you must fill out an application with the state's Land Department. For neighbor-to-neighbor easements, you and your neighbor can come up with an agreement with your respective attorneys and file the agreement with your county.


You may have to go to court to receive access to an easement if the property owner is refusing to grant an easement or is not agreeing to the terms of an existing easement. To win your case, you need accurate, up-to-date land surveys and photographs of the properties in question.


Obtain accurate, professional property surveys when assessing, creating, and enforcing land easements in the Southwest United States. Contact Community Sciences Corporation to schedule expert, efficient land surveying throughout Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona.

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