What is a Deed of Easement?
Estimated reading time 7 minutes
We regularly feature content within our guides that help lay out, in the simplest terms possible, some of the more common language that gets attributed to both property and land sales.
One we have not yet covered is the Deed of Easement. A term not many of us in property hear a great deal, but one that is very important for those looking to achieve certain things with their land or property.
Simply put, a deed of easement is a legal document that sets out the right for the use of someone else’s land for a purpose that you have agreed on. Once granted, you will normally pay the landowner for the use of their land with full terms set out in the deed of easement.
Sounds simple enough? Someone has some land, you need to make use of, they agree, all sorted. Well, not quite. Let’s take a look at how a deed of easement works, how you get one and why you may need one.
What is a deed of easement used for?
A deed of easement is a legal document that allows you to use someone else’s land in a certain way that is likely to be essential to you or your property. Common reasons for getting a deed of easement are for:
- Right of way either on foot or by vehicle
- Right of access
- Right to use drains or pipes that pass over someone’s land
Many others may be granted too but the above tend to be the most common.
A deed of easement can also be put in place to restrict someone from using their land in a certain way. This could include things that they wish to build that may block natural light from your property or put obstructions in the way of natural entry and exit to your land.
Whether your deed of easement is for your wish to use someone else’s land or to restrict the landowner from altering their land, you should speak to a solicitor first to find the best solution.
You may even find during the conveyancing process when buying a house that there is already an easement in place on the land that the property you hope to buy is on.
How can you find if there is an easement right over your property?
You should be informed by your solicitor whether there are any easements over the land or property you are buying. The title deeds will also indicate this.
How are easements granted?
Should there be a need to use your land or there be a need for you to use someone else’s, it will tend to be granted by way of three easement types or an informal agreement.
The express grant is normally used in a situation where the landowner offers the right to use part of their land. The reason, the limitations and the extent to which the land is used will all be set out in the deed of easement.
Implied easements do not require a deed of easement and are in place when both parties agree the land needs to be used by those that don’t own it. This would commonly be in place when access to your property may only be possible by passing through the other party’s land. You will need to prove this is the case though and it shouldn’t just be assumed that the landowner agrees with you.
You may have been using the land for a substantial time with no permission actually granted by the owner. If this is the case, a prescriptive easement should be granted. For this to be possible. You must have been using the other person’s land for 20 years, without force and without permission. There is every chance they were not even aware it was an encroachment of their land but should the land change hands, or a dispute ever arise, it would be best to seek the easement.
In many cases, it may be possible to speak with the landowner and mutually agree, informally, over the access and use of the land. Together you can set out how it will be used, why it will be used and what charges may be required for it. Opting for this method sees no need for a solicitor but it could backfire as no agreement would be legally binding and one party could change their mind, want to charge more, or alter the purpose of the land.
How much does a deed of easement cost?
If you opt for the informal agreement, there will be no cost to either party, this however, can be dangerous so it is worth looking at the other options.
Prices vary but you can expect to pay anything from £200 up to £400. However, whether the land is registered or not is a determining factor in the cost as is the number of easements you want the deed to contain.
In addition, the costs for any work that may be needed would fall under the responsibility of the person seeking the easement and not the landowner. For example, if a water supply is needed and the pipework would have to run through a neighbours land, the neighbour granting the right of access would not be responsible for any costs. The person wanting the water supply would be.
How to apply for a deed of easement
If there is a section of land that you require the use of for one of the reasons mentioned earlier, you will need to begin the process of getting a deed of easement.
The first thing to do is to contact your solicitor. They will be able to see if an easement is needed. Once this has been determined, you can progress further.
Land registration check
Assuming your solicitor has informed you that an easement is needed, the registration of the land will need to be determined. The land registry can help with this, but you can also ask your conveyancer. If both your land and the land of the other person is registered, you are more likely to get the easement finalised. If the land is unregistered, it would be best to get it registered as soon as possible. Your solicitor will be able to do this for you.
Writing up a deed of easement
With land registration organised, your solicitor will draft up a deed of easement that explains what you need to use the land for and how much you are willing to pay for that use.
Finalising the deed
Once the deed is presented to the landowner, they can review and object or approve it as they see fit. Once they approve it and give consent for you to use the land for those reasons, both parties will sign it and then it becomes legal.
It is worth noting that easements can be both contested if it is not felt to be in the public interest or even stopped should both pieces of land come into the ownership of the same person or the easement has not been used for 20 years, or an expiration date has passed in the express grant.
If you have land you no longer require then speak to us! We can help with selling land, no matter its location. We extend this to property too. If you have a house and it is struggling to sell, perhaps due to an easement that is in place, let us know. We buy any house and, operating as cash house buyers means we can have the funds in your bank account within as little as seven days. If you’ve been contacting agents asking Can you sell my house fast? speak to Gaffsy today! Contact us now for a free cash offer for your house or your land!