noun ease·ment \ ˈēz-mənt \
Updated on: 26 Jul 2017

Definition of easement

1 :an act or means of easing or relieving (as from discomfort)
2 :an interest in land owned by another that entitles its holder to a specific limited use or enjoyment; also :an area of land covered by an easement

Recent Examples of easement from the Web

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First Known Use of easement

14th century

Financial Definition of EASEMENT


What It Is

An easement is a legal right to trespass.

How It Works

Let's say John Doe owns five acres of land. He retires and decides that he doesn't want to keep paying property taxes on the full parcel. He decides to sell two of the five acres to Jane Smith, who builds a house on the parcel.

Because the land is surrounded on three sides by rivers and forest, Jane must drive over a patch of John's property to get to her house. When she buys the land, she negotiates an easement (probably at an extra cost), which allows her to have a driveway from the main road, over John's property, and to her house.

Utility companies often have easements on property so they can access utility lines, sewer pipes, cables and other physical components. In most cases, the easements dictate what sort of activity can occur (i.e., only for driving, not building).

Why It Matters

Easements often can be negotiated, and often they accompany the deed to a piece of property (so that the users of an easement don't lose access if the property sells). Sometimes, easements become implied if the same parties use a portion of a property for a long period of time.

Law Dictionary


noun ease·ment \ ˈēz-mənt \

legal Definition of easement

:an interest in land owned by another that entitles its holder to a specific limited use or enjoyment (as the right to cross the land or have a view continue unobstructed over it) — see also dominant estate and servient estate at estate 4 — compare license, profit 2, right-of-way, servitude
affirmative easement
:an easement entitling a person to do something affecting the land of another that would constitute trespass or a nuisance if not for the easement — compare negative easement in this entry
apparent easement
:an easement whose existence is detectable by its outward appearance (as by the presence of a water pipe)
appurtenant easement \ə-ˈpərt-ᵊn-ənt-\
:easement appurtenant in this entry
common easement
:an easement in which the owner of the land burdened by the easement retains the privilege of sharing the benefits of the easement called also nonexclusive easement; compare exclusive easement in this entry
conservation easement
:an easement granted by a landowner to a public or private entity (as a land trust) in which the landowner agrees to restrictions on use of the land (as from development) and the holder agrees to enforce the restrictions
determinable easement
:an easement that will terminate upon the happening of a specific event or contingency
easement appurtenant easements appurtenant
:an easement attached to and benefiting a dominant estate and burdening a servient estate — compare easement in gross in this entry
Note: Easements appurtenant run with the land and are therefore passed when the property is transferred.
easement by estoppel
:an easement that is created when the conduct of the owner of land leads another to reasonably believe that he or she has an interest in the land so that he or she acts or does not act in reliance on that belief
easement by implication
:an easement that is created by operation of law when an owner severs property into two parcels in such a way that an already existing, obvious, and continuous use of one parcel (as for access) is necessary for the reasonable enjoyment of the other parcel called also easement by necessity, implied easement, way of necessity
easement by prescription
:an easement created by the open, notorious, uninterrupted, hostile, and adverse use of another's land for 20 years or for a period set by statute called also prescriptive easement
easement in gross
:an easement that is a personal right of its holder to a use of another's land and that is not dependent on ownership of a dominant estate called also personal easement; compare easement appurtenant in this entry
Note: Utility companies often own easements in gross.
exclusive easement
:an easement that the holder has the right to enjoy to the exclusion of all others — compare common easement in this entry
implied easement
:easement by implication in this entry
negative easement
:an easement that entitles the holder to prevent the owner of land from using the land for a purpose or in a way that would otherwise be permitted
nonexclusive easement
:common easement in this entry
personal easement
:easement in gross in this entry
prescriptive easement
:easement by prescription in this entry
quasi easement
:the use by the owner of two adjoining parcels of land of one of the parcels to benefit the other
Note: A quasi easement may become an easement upon the transfer of one or both of the parcels.
reciprocal negative easement
:an easement created by operation of law and held by the owner of a lot in a residential development that entitles the holder to enforce restrictions that were part of the general development scheme against the developer and subsequent buyers who purchase free of the restrictions

Origin and Etymology of easement

Anglo-French esement, literally, benefit, convenience, from Old French aisement, from aisier to ease, assist

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