Obtaining private property can come with obstacles. However, there are resources cities can use to make for a smoother transaction. Depending on the circumstances, they may want to look at using an easement to obtain property they need.
What is an easement?
An easement represents the right of one party to take a portion or all of another party’s property. In most instances, easements are for real estate purposes. But governments can still use them as well.
How are they created?
Here are a few examples:
- Out of necessity: If a fire or police station gets blocked off from public roadways by a long private driveway, this may be problematic. Luckily, a city could use an easement, giving public service officials access to the private driveway when necessary.
- Agreement: This can happen when a party needs a piece of land for a specific purpose. For example, if a city needs to build a public works facility that’s close to someone’s property, the city may have to negotiate an agreement about how to do so. The agreement may include provisions regarding construction, building maintenance and land restrictions.
- Condemnation: This is probably the most commonly used in eminent domain cases. Municipalities and other government agencies can condemn a property or a portion of a property if they need the land for public good.
Easements are transferable under California law. If the dominant owner sells their property to someone else, the easement can get passed down from the original buyer. However, new owners can renegotiate provisions of the easement if they choose.