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Where do easements and eminent domain intersect?

On Behalf of | Feb 7, 2023 | Eminent Domain

You might have heard the term eminent domain before and wondered what it means. It refers to the government’s power to take private property for public use. This power applies to building roads, schools and public utilities in California.

Government limitations

However, the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution places limitations on the government’s power of eminent domain. The amendment ensures that property owners receive just compensation for the property taken from them.

The intersection of easements and eminent domain

Easements are another aspect of property law that intersects with eminent domain. Easements are non-possessory rights that allow someone to use another person’s property for a specific purpose. For example, a utility company may have an easement to access your property to maintain power lines. In some cases, an easement acquisition can be through eminent domain.

Granting an easement

An easement does not grant ownership of the property, but rather the rights to use it for a specific purpose. The owner retains ownership and may use the rest of the property as they see fit if it does not interfere with the easement.

Easements can also be created voluntarily through a contract between the property owner and the party using the easement. This is often in cases where a property owner grants a neighbor an easement to cross their land to access their own property.

Voluntary easement

In some cases, the government may also acquire easements through negotiation or agreement with the property owner. This process is known as a voluntary easement. It provides benefits for both the government and the property owner, such as compensation for the use of the property and improved access to public projects.

Property law, eminent domain and easements

Eminent domain and easements play a significant role in property law and can considerably impact property owners. Property owners should know their rights and the limitations of the government’s power to take property for public use. Understanding how easements can affect using and enjoying your property is also essential.