When buying a home, there are some legal issues that can turn an amazing deal into a nightmare if they are not identified and dealt with ahead of time. One of the most common issues that can sour a sweet real estate opportunity is the presence of easements on a property.
An easement essentially allows a party other than the owner to enjoy a specific right to use the property, or restricts the owner of the property from taking certain actions. Generally speaking, easements can be divided into positive and negative easements. A positive easement means that even if you buy a piece of property, the individual who enjoys the easement may retain the right to use a portion of it, such as driving a tractor across the back of a tract of land.
A negative easement is one that restricts the owner from using the property in certain ways. This could mean that even though you dreamed of building Alberta's most impressive land-locked lighthouse in your backyard, an easement on your property restricts you from building anything with a height that exceeds 20 feet above grade.
Simply because there is an easement on a property does not mean it can't be a good investment. If you discover an easement in the home buying process, you may be able to either negotiate its removal or use this information to leverage a better price. If you are considering purchasing a property, it always pays to know exactly what you are getting, and who else retains rights to it. With the assistance of an experienced real estate lawyer, you can shop confidently with all of the relevant information at your disposal.
Source: Findlaw Canada, "What is an easement?," accessed Oct. 26, 2016