Easement In Gross

Article byGayatri Ailani
Edited byShreeya Jain
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

Easement In Gross Definition

Easement in gross is a right to legally access an individual or an entity’s property for a specific purpose, regardless of who owns the property. The main aim is to establish a legal framework that allows the easement holder to exercise specific rights related to the property without actually holding it.

Easement In Gross

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Easements in gross protect property rights by ensuring that property owners do not unduly burden access to their property. By granting this, the property owner can limit the use of their property to a specific purpose while still allowing others to access it as needed. Hence, utility companies often use these to access private property and maintain power lines, water lines, or other types of infrastructure.

Key Takeaways

  • Easement in gross refers to a legal right granted to an individual or entity to use others’ property for a specific purpose without any ownership interest in the property itself.
  • The key difference between an easement in gross and appurtenant is that. An easement appurtenant ties to a specific piece of land and benefits the owner. In contrast, an easement in gross is not attached to any particular property.
  • Moreover, the difference between an easement in gross and a license is that the former creates a property interest attached to the land. In contrast, the property owner grants the latter as revocable permission to another person to use the property for a particular purpose.

Easement In Gross Explained

An easement in gross is a legal right that grants a specific individual or entity the non-possessory right to use or access another person’s property for a particular purpose. Individuals or entities grant easements in gross, which are not tied to any specific piece of land, unlike other easements.

Moreover, transfer granting easement in gross involves the grantor, who holds the easement rights, transferring those rights to another individual, known as the grantee.
Therefore, individuals or entities establish a commercial easement in gross for commercial or business purposes. Hence, this grants a specific individual the right to access another person’s property for commercial activities rather than personal or recreational purposes.

Hence, to create this, the parties involved must enter into a written agreement that outlines the easement terms, including its specific purpose. Besides, these purposes serve a variety of functions, and individuals or entities can establish them for different reasons. Here are some common purposes for these easements:

  • Utility access
  • Right-of-way
  • Conservation and environmental purpose
  • Recreation and access
  • Specific commercial purpose

Thus, individuals or entities can grant these easements for a specific period or in perpetuity, without an expiration date. Additionally, individuals or entities can make these easements transferable, enabling them to sell or assign the easement to another party, while still adhering to the terms of the original easement agreement. Furthermore, the easement in gross utility allows the utility company to use or cross the property to install, maintain, repair, or operate utility lines.

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Examples

Let us look at the easement in gross examples to understand the concept better:

Example #1

Suppose John owns a piece of property in the countryside, which includes a large pond. The local fishing club has been seeking a place to hold fishing tournaments. And John is willing to allow them to use his pond for these events. Hence, John and the fishing club enter into a written agreement outlining the easement terms to create an easement in gross.

Furthermore, the agreement specifies that the fishing club has the right to use the pond for fishing tournaments for five years. After which the easement will expire. Moreover, the agreement also specifies that the fishing club is responsible for maintaining the pond and ensuring it is not damaged during the tournaments.

Thus, in this example, the easement in gross allows the fishing club to use John’s property for a specific purpose without actually owning the property. Hence, the easement is not tied to any particular piece of land. Instead it is granted to the fishing club rather than a property owner.

Example #2

Suppose a landlocked property in the US needs direct access to a public road. The owner of the landlocked property negotiates an easement in gross with the owner of the neighboring property with road frontage. The easement aims to secure a right-of-way for the landlocked property owner to access their property through the adjacent property.

Therefore, this agreement would specify the width and location of the right-of-way. That would serve as the access point for the landlocked property. Moreover, it would also outline any restrictions or obligation. For instance, the maintenance responsibilities of the landlocked property owner or limitations on the use of the right-of-way.

Hence, in this example, the easement in gross benefits the owner of the landlocked property by granting them the necessary access to their property through the neighboring property. Additionally, the easement allows the landlocked property owner to travel to and from their property using the designated right-of-way.

Easement In Gross vs Appurtenant

The differences between Easement In Gross and Appurtenant are as follows:

BasisEasement in grossAppurtenant
MeaningThese do not require the owner of any adjoining property, and the easement holder can use the property for a specific purpose regardless of who owns the land.  It is an easement attached to a specific piece of property, meaning that the right to use the property is tied to ownership of a neighboring or adjacent property.
Nature of benefitHence, they provide a benefit to a specific individual or entity.Appurtenant benefits to the neighboring property, such as access or a view.
TransferableGenerally not transferable unless specified in the agreement.They can be transferred with the ownership of the adjoining property.
Dominant and ServientNo dominant estateInvolves both dominant estate and a servient estate

Easement In Gross vs License

The differences between Easement In Gross and license are as follows:

BasisEasement in grossLicense
MeaningIt is a type of property interest that grants the holder a right to use a specific piece of land for a particular purpose, regardless of who owns it.A license is a more limited right to use a property for a specific purpose, which can be granted by the property owner to someone else.
TransferabilityIt runs with the land and is binding on all future owners of the propertyLicense is personal to the holder and cannot be transferred to another person or entity.
DurationCan be permanent  or for a specific periodTypically revocable and can be terminated
BenefitBenefits the holder of the easement onlyThey benefit the license (grantee)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Do easements in a gross run with the land?

Traditionally, easements in gross were considered personal and did not run with the land. It means the easement rights were tied to a specific person or entity and could not be transferred to another person or entity. However, in specific scenarios, courts have found that easements in gross can run with the land if the easement agreement explicitly provides for it.

2. What is personal easement in gross?

A personal easement in gross is an easement granted to a specific individual or entity for their lifetime or a limited period. It means that the right to use the land is tied to the individual or entity that holds the easement and cannot be transferred to anyone else.

3. Is an easement in gross a negative easement?

No, an easement in gross is not necessarily a negative easement.
It restricts the use of the servient estate by prohibiting certain activities or services. For example, a negative easement may prohibit the servient estate owner from building on a portion of their property or using it for specific purposes.

This article has been a guide to Easement In Gross and its definition. Here, we explain its examples and compare it with appurtenant and license. You may also find some useful articles here –

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