Did you know that you may have several types of utility lines running under or over your land as a property owner?For example, electric, gas or telecommunications lines like those used by Race Communications. If these lines exist, a utility company can access them if there’s a problem, and that means they can go onto your property to do so. Here’s what you should know about utility easements and what you can expect as a property owner.
Firstly, while you may own the land, but utility companies will have the right to use your land to access their equipment: Utility easements are usually written into your deed. If you’re not sure if there’s an easement on your property, it’s best to do a title search to find out. A utility easement will transfer with the land, or “run with the land”—that is, if you sell your house, the next owner buys your house and land with the easement on it. Sometimes there’s nothing in writing showing a utility easement, but an easement is usually implied when you buy a house that comes with running water, cable, electricity or gas, and other utilities.
Property owners have the right to use the land as they see fit, including the easement area, so long as they’re not obstructing the easement itself. For example, if there’s a written easement for a company to use a small corridor along your property to access its equipment in the back, you can’t build anything on it or obstruct that corridor. If you do, the utility company can remove the obstruction or even destroy it if it interferes with the easement.
That doesn’t mean you can’t build a fence, or plant shrubs or flowers along the border, so long as they don’t interfere with the utility companies’ access to their equipment. Remember that your deed permits utility companies to access it whenever needed so that they can take you to court—they can ask the judge for an injunction to stop you from blocking entry onto your property—for violating the easement.
One way to avoid damage to utility lines placed on your property, is to call 811 before you dig! Race Communications recently shared a blog post on the importance of utility markings prior to kicking off any projects around your property. We hope we’ve been able to answer your questions on utility easements and what they mean for you as a property owner!