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In Anglo-American property law, an interest in land owned by another that entitles its holder to a specific limited use or enjoyment, such as the right to cross the land or have a view over it continue unobstructed. It may be created expressly by a written deed of grant conveying the specific usage right, or it may be created by implication, as when an owner divides property into two parcels in such a way that an already existing, obvious, and continuous use of one parcel (e.g., for access) is necessary for the reasonable enjoyment of the other. Some U.S. states permit the creation of an easement by prescription (acquisition of an interest), as when one person makes continuous use of another's land for some specified period of time (e.g., 20 years). Utility companies often own easements in gross; these are not dependent on ownership of the surrounding estate. Numerous other kinds of easements have been important in Anglo-American law. See alsoreal and personal property.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on easement, visit Britannica.com.