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What are Easement Rights in Wisconsin?

Whether you own a home or are considering purchasing one, it is important to understand easement rights. Easement can impact the size of your property as well as the limitations that may be placed upon the lot. An easement is a grant that allows another party to use someone else’s land. Easements are often associated with the boundaries of a property, but can be located anywhere. The use of easements is a common practice. It is best to make sure that you understand the easements of your property before you purchase or complete construction of any type on the land.

Types of Easements

Easements provide rights for specific purposes. Some of the most common easements are:

  • Utility Easement
  • Private Easement
  • Public Easement
  • Necessary Easement
  • Prescriptive Easement

A utility easement provides access to land for the use of a utility company. This is one of the most common easements. The utility company may utilize the land for poles and wiring to provide electricity to the area, for instance.

A private easement grants the other party specific rights to a portion of the property.

A necessary easement is one that is required, such as the need for access to land that has no other entry except through another’s property.

Public easement allows use of the land for public use, such as for a sidewalk or grass parkway.

A prescriptive easement allows use of the property for a specific period of time.

Positive and Negative Easement Rights

There are two main kinds of easement rights including positive and negative. A positive or affirmative easement right allows permission for a specific function or reason. An example of a positive easement is to allow right-of-way to a neighboring property, such as for access to the other property.  A negative easement is one that restricts or prohibits specific uses of the land. For instance, a negative easement might prevent the building of a tall structure that would block the owner’s view. Both types of easements may include some specific restrictions or requirements and are subject to the local ordinances.

Can Easements Affect Property Value?

Generally, easements will not negatively impact the value of your property. However, there can be some circumstances that cause easements on your property to reduce the value of your property as compared with other similar properties in your area that do not have easement rights attached. In some cases, easement protections of adjacent properties can be beneficial to your property value. When you have property near a lake, for example, you want to ensure that you have the right to access the lake from an easement of your neighbor’s land. Without the easement in place, your property value could be significantly decreased.

Statute of Limitations for Easement Enforcement

According to Wisconsin Statute § 893.33(6), easements are enforced for a period of 40 years from the initial easement recording. Therefore, it is important to pursue another easement recording to extend the initial 40-year period. The statute applies specifically to real estate easements and does not include some types of easements such as utility and railroad. Some easements may have specific expiration dates. For example, easement rights may end with the passing of the landowner. Easement rights may also terminate if they are no longer necessary.

Easements are a necessary part of property ownership in many cases. You can find the details of easements in your property deed. It is something you should take note of during closing.

If you need specific access to someone’s property or have concerns about the easements of your property, do not hesitate to seek legal guidance. Contact our legal team at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. by phone at (608) 784-8310 or online for a case consultation.

Published November 11, 2021
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