Property ownership comes with great responsibility and potential for disputes. When you are asked to provide access to your property or need access to someone else’s property, the topic of easements often arises. When this happens related to utility needs in Indiana, it is important to consult with an attorney who can advise you regarding Indiana utility easement laws.
Understanding Easements and Indiana Utility Easement Laws
Imagine a train traveling over thousands of miles of land. Owning all of the land it traverses is not necessary, but the train cannot run without permission to access that property it crosses. This is where easements come in, and they apply to more than just trains.
An easement is the right to use or enter land, or servient estate, that belongs to someone else for a particular purpose, often to benefit the dominant estate. Because utilities go hand-in-hand with the use of property, easements provide the route for utilities to gain access to property.
As with any situation in which someone is using someone else’s property, utility easements in Indiana have their share of legal issues. If you’re thinking you need an easement or have been approached about granting one to someone else, including a utility, consult with an Indianapolis utility easement lawyer at Camden & Meridew, P.C. to learn more about your rights and responsibilities related to Indiana utility easement laws.
Types of Easements and How They Are Granted
Utility easements in Indiana are recognized by two sources of authority: the Indiana Code and the common law in Indiana.
Indiana Code article 32-23 describes four types of easements:
- Easements by prescription, which are created through 20 years of continuous use (but not to be confused with adverse possession);
- Easements in gross, which are created by alienation, inheritance, or assignment;
- Easements by necessity, a type of implied easement created when it is necessary to cross one parcel to get to another or to get access to a public road;
- Easements by prior use, an implied easement created when the continuation of an easement is necessary to enjoy a parcel (which often occurs when someone forgets to record an existing easement on a title or deed); and
- Solar easements, which are used to prevent future shading.
A rights-of-way, public or private, such as those used by railroads, is a type of easement.
The common law of easements is made up of both custom and the precedent set by judicial decisions. With common law recognition of easements, such as easements by agreement, parties with an interest in property do best when consulting with attorneys very familiar with Indiana utility easement laws. It is hard to think of everything, but knowing, at a minimum, what type of easement you are working with is the first step in knowing what your respective rights and responsibilities are.
Kinds of Easements in Indiana
Knowing your responsibilities related to easements requires an understanding of where your easement resides:
- An appurtenant easement stays with the land, meaning that any easement associated with the land is inseparable from the land, no matter if the land is later owned by another party. A common example of this is when an easement is required to allow someone ingress or egress to a parcel of land that is landlocked.
- An easement in gross is quite different because it is a personal right held by an individual or legal entity. An easement in gross does not run with the land and cannot be granted to another person. Utilities often have this kind of easement.
Common Questions Related to Indiana Utility Easement Laws
There is a reason title companies and attorneys conduct thorough research, looking for easements when property is purchased or sold. Not knowing the responsibilities associated with an easement can lead to costly legal issues. The following are some of the questions that may arise as you deal with an issue related to utility easements in Indiana:
- How wide is a utility easement in Indiana? What are the boundaries?
- Is the easement exclusive?
- How will access be handled for construction or maintenance purposes?
- Are there privacy or safety issues to consider?
- What is the appropriate compensation for an easement? How and when will it be paid?
- What happens if property is damaged in building the easement?
- Who maintains the area within the easement?
- What happens if the servient estate looks different after an easement is constructed?
- Can the easement be assigned?
- What are the issues related to utility line easements in Indiana?
- What if a party does not want the easement?
- If someone refuses to grant an easement, when does eminent domain become an issue?
- What happens if the easement is no longer necessary?
An Indianapolis utility easement lawyer is positioned to help you proactively look at some of the more common issues and questions about easements and related legal matters.
Resolve Uncertainties about Utility Easements in Indiana
Every piece of property comes with a unique location and situation. It is difficult to know all of the possible issues that may arise when purchasing property or dealing with easements. Let an Indianapolis utility easement lawyer do the worrying for you and help ensure that you comply with Indiana utility easement laws that apply to your particular situation. Contact Corey Meridew at Camden & Meridew, P.C. by calling 317-770-0000, or complete our online contact form for a consultation about easements in Indiana.