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What’s the difference between an easement and a right of way?

| May 24, 2021 | Blog, Easements, Land Use |

Property locations can pose a challenge in Massachusetts. If you own a large section of land, there might be people who want to go hiking, fishing, or hunting on your property. You might also have people who want to cross through your property to get from one place to another. Normally, these activities would be considered trespassing, but you can grant an easement to allow individuals to legally access your property.

What is the difference between an easement and a right of way?

An easement is a legal agreement that allows an individual to use your property in some way. This doesn’t give the person ownership over your property; it simply allows the person to use your property without being arrested for trespassing. For example, if you own several acres of wilderness, you might give one of your family members an easement that allows him or her to go hunting on your property.

In land use terms, a right of way is a specific type of easement that allows someone to travel through your property to reach another destination. For example, if your property is located near a popular fishing area, you might grant your neighbor right of way so he or she can cut through your property instead of taking the long way. Like other types of easements, a right-of-way agreement gives the recipient no ownership over your property.

If you give someone an easement on your property, you might have to comply with certain laws even though you still own the property. For example, you might not be able to build structures in the place where the easement is defined. Some houses come with existing easements, so it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you buy a new property.

How can you grant someone an easement?

When you grant an easement, it’s important to use exact legal terms so there’s no misunderstanding about what the individual is allowed to do on your property. Otherwise, you might end up with legal challenges later. An attorney could help you write easement or right of way documents that give individuals permission to use your property in specific ways.

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