Definition of Easement

A right of use over the property of another. Traditionally the permitted kinds of uses were limited, the most important being rights of way and rights concerning flowing waters. The easement was normally for the benefit of adjoining lands, no matter who the owner was (an easement appurtenant), rather than for the benefit of a specific individual (easement in gross). The land having the right of use as an appurtenance is known as the dominant tenement and the land which is subject to the easement is known as the servient tenement.

A right in the owner of one parcel of land, by reason of such ownership, to use the land of another for a special purpose not inconsistent with a general property in the owner.

An interest which one person has in the land of another. A primary characteristic of an easement is that its burden falls upon the possessor of the land from which it issued and that characteristic is expressed in the statement that the land constitutes a servient tenement and the easement a dominant tenement. Potter v. Northern Natural Gas Co., 201 Kan. 528, 441 P.2d 802, 805. An interest in land in and over which it is to be enjoyed, and is distinguishable from a “license” which merely confers personal privilege to do some act on the land. Logan v. McGee, Miss., 320 So.2d 792, 793.

See also Affirmative easement; Non-continuous easement; Prescriptive easement.

Access easement. See Access.

Affirmative easement. One where the servient estate must permit something to be done thereon, as to pass over it, or to discharge water on it.

Apparent easement. One the existence of which appearsfrom the construction or condition of one of the tenements, so as to be capable of being seen or known on inspection.

Appendent easement. See Appurtenant easement, infra.

Appurtenant easement. An incorporeal right which is attached to a superior right and inheres in land to which it is attached and isin the nature of a covenant running with the land. Fort Dodge, D. M. & S. Ry. v. American Community Stores Corp., 256 Iowa 1344, 131 N.W.2d 515, 521. There must be a dominant estate and servient estate. An easement interest which attaches to the land and passes with it. First Nat. Bank of Amarillo v. Amarillo Nat. Bank, Tex.Civ. App., 531 S.W.2d 905, 907. An “incorporeal right” which is attached to and belongs with some greater and superior right or something annexed to another thing more worthy and which passes as incident to it and is incapable of existence separate and apart from the particular land to which it is annexed.

Discontinuing easement. Discontinuous, non-continuous, or non-apparent easements are those the enjoyment of which can be had only by the interference of man, as, a right of way or a right to draw water.

Easement by estoppel. Easement which is created when landlord voluntarily imposes apparent servitude on his property and another person, acting reasonably, believes that servitude is permanent and in reliance upon that belief does something that he would not have done otherwise or refrains from doing something that he would have done otherwise. U. S. v. Thompson, D.C.Ark., 272 F.Supp. 774, 784.

Easement by necessity. Such arises by operation of law when land conveyed is completely shut off from access to any road by land retained by grantor or by land of grantor and that of a stranger. Tarr v. Watkins, 180 Cal.App. 362, 4 Cal.Rptr. 293, 296.

Easement by prescription. A mode of acquiring title to property by immemorial or long-continued enjoyment, and refers to personal usage restricted to claimant and his ancestors or grantors.

Easement in gross. An easement in gross is not appurtenant to any estate in land or does not belong to any person by virtue of ownership of estate in other land but is mere personal interest in or right to use land of another; it is purely personal and usually ends with death of grantee. Shingleton v. State, 260 N.C. 451, 133 S.E.2d 183, 185.

Easement of access. Right of ingress and egress to and from the premises of a lot owner to a street appurtenant to the land of the lot owner.

Easement of convenience. One which increases the facility, comfort, or convenience of the enjoyment of the dominant estate, or of some right connected with it.

Easement of natural support. Easement which creates right of lateral support to land in its natural condition entitling the holder thereof to have his land held in place from the sides by neighboring land.

Easement of necessity. One in which the easement is indispensable to the enjoyment of the dominant estate.

Equitable easements. The special easements created by derivation of ownership of adjacent proprietors from a common source, with specific intentions as to buildings for certain purposes, or with implied privy leges in regard to certain uses, are sometimes so called. A name frequently applied to building restrictions in a deed.

Implied easement. One which the law imposes by inferring the parties to a transaction intended that result, although they did not express it. Schwob v. Green, Iowa, 215 N.W.2d 240, 242. An easement resting upon the principle that, where the owner of two or more adjacent lots sells a part thereof, he grants by implication to the grantee all those apparent and visible easements which are necessary for the reasonable use of the property granted, which at the time of the grant are used by the owner of the entirety for the benefit of the part granted. One not expressed by parties in writing but arises out of existence of certain facts implied from the transaction. Wagner v. Fairlamb, 151 Colo. 481, 379 P.2d 165, 167.

Intermittent easement. One which is usable or used only at times, and not continuously.

Negative easement. Those where the owner of the servient estate is prohibited from doing something otherwise lawful upon his estate, because it will affect the dominant estate (as interrupting the light and air from the latter by building on the former). As to “Reciprocal negative easement," see that title, infra.

Private or public easements. A private easement is one in which the enjoyment is restricted to one or a few individuals, while a public easement is one the right to the enjoyment of which is vested in the public generally or in an entire community; such as an easement of passage on the public streets and highways or of navigation on a stream.

Quasi easement. An “easement,” in the proper sense of the word, can only exist in respect of two adjoining pieces of land occupied by different persons, and can only impose a negative duty on the owner of the servient tenement. Hence an obligation on the owner of land to repair the fence between his and his neighbor’s land is not a true easement, but is sometimes called a “quasi easement.”

Reciprocal negative easement. If the owner of two or more lots, so situated as to bear the relation, sells one with restrictions of benefit to the land retained, the servitude becomes mutual, and, during the period of restraint, the owner of the lot or lots retained can do nothing forbidden to the owner of the lot sold; this being known as the doctrine of “reciprocal negative easement.”

Secondary easement. One which is appurtenant to the primary or actual easement. Every easement includes such “secondary easements,” that is, the right to do such things as are necessary for the full enjoyment of the easement itself.

That's the definition of Easement in Black's Law Dictionary 6th Edition. Courtesy of Cekhukum.com.