What is an easement?

Published in: March 2017

Before exploring in greater detail the laws surrounding easements, it’s probably a good starting point to clarify what exactly is an easement. Well, an easement gives a person the right to use a neighbour’s land without actual possession. So, having the right of way to pass through a neighbour’s land to get to yours is perhaps the most common example of an easement. 

Easements generally cannot exist without one piece of land deriving a benefit from another. The land that is deriving the benefit is known referred to as the dominant tenement, while the land which is subject to the easement is known as the servient tenement. In summation, an easement is a right which is taken from one estate, and attached to another.

Readers might assume that the two estates also need to be adjacent to one another in order for an easement to be created, but this is not always the case. The general approach when creating an easement is that if the estates are too far away from one another, the easement may not be considered valid because there may be no actual benefit to the dominant tenement – which is after all, the main reason for wanting to create an easement in the first place.

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