Tennessee Utility Easement Laws: What You Need to Know

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By Rochford Law Posted on July 9, 2021 at 11:46 AM

When purchasing real estate, as opposed to renting, you now can use the property the way you see fit while adhering to local codes and laws. In some circumstances, others have a right to use your property in a certain way, even if they have no claim to ownership.

Utility easements are one of the most common versions of this concept. In order to deliver power and water to public facilities, the power lines and pipes connecting our houses must run above and below our homes. It is possible for employees of the city to perform work on private property. You can avoid the stress that comes with knowledge of Tennessee utility easement laws by understanding them beforehand.

With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about utility easements in Tennessee before reaching out to a real estate attorney.

  • What are Easements?
  • Implied Easements
  • Express Easements
  • Private Easements
  • Public Easements
  • Utility Easement Effects
  • Ending a Utility Easement

What Are Easements?

As a general rule, an easement is permission to use a piece of another's property for a particular purpose. A contract that stipulates these agreements usually transfers with the property when it is sold to a new owner. The creation of an easement without a contract can occur under certain circumstances. For example, land can be used for a proper purpose for an extended period of time, thus establishing an easement based on prior use.

In some cases, a driveway can veer into a neighbor's property. There may be a problem here with a new homeowner, but since the driveway has already been used, an easement may be established. Additionally, if a property becomes cut off from public roadways due to surrounding development, an easement could be created without a contract. An easement is thus deemed necessary in this situation. The result of a utility easement will, however, always be a written agreement.

Implied Easements

These examples of easements created without an express contract are what’s known as implied easements. Necessity and prior use are both reasons a court will create an easement to a person who is not the property owner.

Express Easements

Express easements are created by a contract. The agreement is put in writing and can be referred to should any disagreements arise. It is put in the deed of both properties once it is finalized. The length of the easement can be negotiated. It is frequently a permanent aspect of the property deeds, however this is not required.

Private Easements

Private easements refer to agreements between two individuals, commonly neighbors. Common scenarios involve driveways, fences, agreements for farming and cutting timber, and so on.

Public Easements

Public easements are put in place for the benefit of the general public. Utility easements are included in this classification, although it also includes items such as sidewalks, public parks, and roadways. Utility companies will use properties to connect sewer lines, power lines, general maintenance of public property, and any other service that benefits the general public.

Utility Easements Effects

Neighbors and neighborhoods receive essential services like water, power, and sewage through utilities. Easements are generally created by agreements incorporated into the property deed. It is only a matter of the property owners accepting most of these easements. According to Tennessee utility easement laws, utility companies cannot use the property in any way they desire. Nonetheless, a work area may be developed based on how they stipulate.

The location of trees on a property can be restricted to prevent damaging utility lines, for instance. Trees may also be cut by utility companies to gain access to public items like power lines. There is the possibility of creating new easements for utilities if they need to add new lines. However, it is rare for a single property to have more than one utility easement.

Ending a Utility Easement

Tennessean utility easement laws provide a few ways for these agreements to terminate. An easement can first be abandoned by the utility company itself. The new location may be chosen for a variety of reasons, including the loss of a utility line. There can also be an expiration date in a utility easement contract. By passing this date without renewing the easement, it will expire.

The utility company will occasionally purchase a property in which an easement exists, effectively ending the easement. Gross misuse of the easement can also justify a property owner to end the contract. This will require the help of a real estate attorney.

Tennessee utility easement laws can be confusing and have a large impact on your enjoyment of your property. Any questions can be addressed with the help of an experienced real estate attorney. Rochford Law & Real Estate Title has served the Nashville area since 1997. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns

Topics: Easement Law, Easements, Real Estate, Real Estate Lawyers