By: Adam Hoffman

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September 19th, 2016

What is a Utility Easement?

Civil Engineering | land surveying

Utility-easementsEven though you own the property on which your home rests, the utility companies in the area might have the right to use parts of it. When you purchased your home might be a utility easement on the property.

This is the case for many properties that are connected to a city power grid, sewer or water system.

What Are Utility Easements

Utility easements are areas of a property that were defined for use by utility companies when the property was first put on a plat. They are designated for overhead electric, telephone and television lines and underground electric, water, sewer, telephone, and cable lines.

While it is rare to have multiple utility easements on a property, water lines and electrical lines do, in some cases, run along different easements.

Why Do Utility Easements Exist?

Utility easements exist for the good of the community. It is much cheaper and more efficient to run utility lines in straight lines through neighborhoods than it is to run them around individual parcels of land.

Easements allow utility companies to keep costs down by significantly reducing the amount of raw materials needed to provide service to the community. With fewer feet of line to maintain, maintenance costs are also significantly lower.

Do Easements Effect Property Use?

Utility EasementsUtility easements don't mean that utility companies can do whatever they want, it just means that they have the right to use the area in a way that is advantageous to the community as a whole.

This means they do have the right to put up utility poles or put in underground lines. But an easement also means that there are certain things that you, as the property owner, cannot do to your own property.

If an easement allows for utility lines to be put across the front of your yard, you may not be allowed to plant tall growing trees in the easement area because of the interference they may cause. If there are already trees there, the utility company can trim them in any fashion they need to make sure the utility lines are not compromised. Similarly, if there are underground lines running through an easement you wouldn't be able to put in an in-ground pool.

Key Takeaways

  • Utility easements are areas of land that are privately owned but can be used by utility companies for utility poles or underground lines.

  • Easements exist to keep utility costs down for all members of the community.

  • Easements may result in you not being able to plant certain trees or build certain amenities on specified areas of your property.

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About Adam Hoffman

Hoffman began his surveying career back in 1978 when he worked for his uncle, Bernard Godfrey. After graduating from Paul Smith’s College, he worked his way from rod-man to transit-man and eventually party-chief. In 1988 when Adam received his Land Surveying license, he and Mr. Godfrey formed Godfrey-Hoffman Associates. After 12 years of a great partnership, Mr. Godfrey retired which left Mr. Hoffman with the entire business.

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