An easement is a legal arrangement that gives a third party limited access to land or property. If you are in the process of buying the home and learn about an easement, it is crucial to understand how the arrangement may impact your use of the home. 

New York state law recognizes several different types of easements appurtenant, which apply to land use. 

Defining easements appurtenant 

For an easement of this kind to be legally valid in New York, it must 

  • Identify the benefactor allowing the easement (servient estate) and the benefiting party (dominant estate) 
  • Have a signature from the person granting land rights 

An easement appurtenant may give the public the right to pass through private land. Other common types of land easements include those allowing beach access; access to public utilities; sidewalk and driveway easements; easements that protect public view or light; and easements for recreation, common use or historic preservation. 

Understanding types of easements 

When purchasing a property in New York, you may encounter several legal arrangements governing an easement on the home: 

  • An easement by prescription arises when the landowner has already been openly and adversely using the land for at least 10 years 
  • An easement by necessity occurs when another party gained the easement because of severance of unity of title 
  • An easement by implication from preexisting use exists only when separation of title followed unity of title after a long easement period resulted in clear benefit 
  • An express easement must appear in writing in a deed or contract and will fall under court review 

You may want to seek legal review before you purchase a home with an easement. Doing so will provide more information about whether the easement will stand up to a legal challenge. It can also help you understand your obligations and responsibilities if you do purchase the land. For example, you may be prohibited from construction that limits easement access.