Easement in Gross

What Is an Easement in Gross?

An easement in gross is an easement that attaches a particular right to an individual or entity rather than to the property itself. The easement in gross is often considered irrevocable for the life of the individual, but it can be rendered void if the individual sells the property upon which the easement request was based.

Key Takeaways

  • An easement in gross is a type of easement that is attached to an individual or entity.
  • An easement in gross is attached to an individual or entity, and cannot be transferred.
  • An easement in gross is different from an appurtenant easement, which is attached to a piece of property.
  • An easement in gross is often granted to utility companies, allowing them to install public infrastructure on private land.
  • If land is sold without disclosing its easements, the buyer can seek legal remedies for any lost value.


Understanding an Easement in Gross

A typical property easement grants limited access to someone who is not the owner of a piece of real property. For example, the owner of an area of landlocked property might need an easement to traverse another property in order to access their land.

An easement in gross is an easement that is granted to an individual or entity, who generally cannot transfer the associated rights to any other person. If the beneficiary of an easement transfers their property to someone else, through sale, inheritance, or any other mechanism, the current easement in gross may be considered void.

The new property owner can attempt to reach a new easement in gross agreement, but there is no guarantee the right will be granted.

Example of an Easement in Gross

One familiar example of an easement in gross is a utility easement. These are legal agreements that allow utility companies to install and maintain infrastructure on private property. Under the conditions of the easement, homeowners are restricted from digging or construction activities that could damage the utilities.

The party who benefits from an easement in gross does not have to own or reside in a neighboring property to be granted the associated rights. Additionally, the permissions granted in the easement may be as broad or specific as desired. When dealing with easements in gross, the property owner often has the most say regarding the limitations stated in the easement.

Sellers may be required to disclose any easements against their property to prospective buyers.

Easement in Gross vs. Easement

Easements grant specific rights or privileges to someone other than the property owner. In contrast with easements in gross, an appurtenant easement grants rights to the owner of a nearby parcel of property. A common example of this is an easement that allows a neighbor to cross another's land in order to reach their own property.

Appurtenant easements are said to "run with the land," meaning that when the beneficiary sells their property, the easement rights transfer to the new property owner. Easements in gross generally cannot be transferred, outside of certain exceptions.

Some easements, especially those given to utility companies, carry with them significant interest and can ultimately be assigned to other parties. If a piece of real estate is purchased without the seller disclosing the nature of an easement, the buyer can seek legal remedies if the easement reduces the value of the property.

How Can I Terminate an Easement in Gross?

An easement can be terminated in eight ways: abandonment, merger, end of necessity, demolition, recording act, condemnation, adverse possession, and release.
Perhaps the simplest way to end an easement is to persuade the beneficiary to release or abandon their rights to the easement.

What Is a Conservation Easement in Gross?

A conservation easement limits the usage of private land in order to protect an endangered species or ecosystem. Conservation easements are always easements in gross, in that they are not attached to a neighboring piece of land.

Who Is the Owner of an Easement in Gross?

The "owner" of an easement in gross is the person or entity that benefits from that easement. This type of easement generally cannot be transferred, although there are exceptions. For example, in a merger between two utility companies, the new company may inherit any easements belonging to its predecessors.

What Is a Personal Easement?

A personal easement is another term for an easement in gross. This is an easement that is not attached to another piece of property. Instead, it grants limited access to a piece of real estate to a person or entity who is not the owner.

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  1. ALB Law Firm. "Setting the Law Straight on Terminating Easements."

  2. USLegal. "Personal Easement Law and Legal Definition."