What’s an Easement and Why Should You Care?
An easement is a property interest that allows the holder of the easement, in this case the City, use of the property that the City does not own or possess. The property owner retains ownership of the land covered by the easement. Easements "run with the land," meaning the agreement automatically transfers to the new property owner when the land is sold even if it is not mentioned in the transfer document. If a previous owner of your property granted an easement, you are bound by that easement the same as if you granted it yourself. There are many types of easements, but the most common are:
- Utility or Public Utility. These may be used by any public or private utility for the purposes of utility access, maintenance, and installation.
- Telephone and Electric (sometimes abbreviated as T&E.) These may be used by electric, telephone, cable TV, and other telecommunications utilities.
- Water or Sewer. These may be used by water or sewer utilities.
- Drainage. These allow property access to a third party, usually a municipality, for the purpose of maintaining drainage and managing stormwater runoff. It also serves to protect the drainageway from obstructions that would impede flow.
Easements are usually granted to the City when property is subdivided and are shown on the plat. They may also be granted to the City by agreement with an accompanying exhibit. Easements agreements, and exhibits are recorded with the Linn County Recorder’s Office. You can check to see if your property has an easement by visiting the County Recorder to obtain a copy of the property’s plat or by finding the plat online at the Linn County Recorder’s website. On the website, click “Search the Real Estate Records” in the sidebar link, then enter your subdivision’s name (i.e. Bowman Woods) into the “Last/Firm Name” field, and then click “Search-Show Final Results.” You can sort the results by “Kind” and look for a Plat.
NOTE: Not all plats can be found this way. Some older neighborhoods may only have their plats in hard copy with the Recorder and will need to visit the office in person.
The City has jurisdiction over most easements. Depending on the type of easement, structures, like retaining walls or fences, typically are not permitted on easements. If you are considering building a structure on your property please ensure you contact the City’s Building Services department to apply for all necessary permits and agreements. Submitting an application does not guarantee approval.