If you’ve ever been involved in buying or selling real estate, you might’ve heard about “covenants” and “easements,” and maybe even had to go through some bureaucratic pains to deal with them. They’re certainly an important part of any discussion about the sale of property, since they can seriously impact how you use and enjoy that property. But what is a covenant or an easement, and how could it impact the sale of your property?
Put simply, an easement refers to any right that someone else has over land that they don’t own. For example, if two properties are next to one another, but only one of them is along a major road, the further property may have an easement to travel across the property along the road so they can reach the road. An easement might also be granted to allow someone access to a source of water, whether for recreation or personal use. The government may also get an easement to run power lines or other utilities across your property, if they can’t find a less obtrusive way to do it.
A covenant, on the other hand, is an agreement between property owners not to exercise certain rights they’d otherwise have. A common kind of covenant, for example, are the sorts found in Homeowners’ Associations, which restrict everything from the appearance of the house, to what sorts of modifications you can add to the house, to how your lawn or garden can look. In some places, people might have covenants that prevent them from building on their property in ways that would restrict air flow or sunlight to surrounding properties. Either way, a covenant runs with the land, which means everyone who later owns the property must adhere to their terms, even though they didn’t agree to them. Agreeing to the covenant, essentially, becomes a term for any contract of sale for that property.
It’s important to know if a property you’re purchasing has a covenant or easement, because it can impact both your ability to enjoy the property, as well as its sale price. It can also cause a variety of legal problems if you attempt to sell a property that has an undisclosed covenant or easement. Contact the skilled New York City real estate attorneys at Hobson-Williams P.C. You may contact us online at www.thobsonwilliamslaw.com, toll-free (866) 825-1529 or (718) 210-4744 to discuss your rights as a landowner or prospective buyer and the solutions available to you.