Understanding Tennessee Utility Easements

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By Rochford Law Posted on August 30, 2021 at 2:43 PM

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. Did you know that in 2019, 64.9% of families owned their primary residence? That’s not a lot of people in the grand scheme of things. With this in mind, 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.

  • Utility Easements
  • Types of Easements
  • Effects on Your Property
  • Ending a Utility Easement

Utility Easements

An easement is generally defined as permission to use a piece of someone else's land. Normally, these contracts are transferred to the new owner when the property is sold. Yet, under certain circumstances, an easement can be created without a contract. For example, using land for a legitimate purpose for a long period of time can establish a prior use easement. It is possible for a driveway to diverge into the property of a neighbor. In this way, a driveway that has been in existence and diverges into neighbors’ property could be a prior use easement.

A new homeowner may have a problem here, but since the driveway has already been used, an easement may be established. Furthermore, property owners who lose access to public roads due to development could create an easement without signing a contract. In this case, an easement is therefore required. A utility easement, however, will always be documented in a written contract.

Types of Easements

Implied Easements

Implied easements are what's known as easements created without an express contract. Courts grant easements to people who are not property owners on the basis of necessity and prior use.

Express Easements

An express easement is created through a contract. In case of disagreement, the contract will be documented and can be referred to. Once it has been finalized, it is incorporated into the deeds for both properties. Negotiations can be conducted regarding the length of the easement.

Private Easements

A private easement refers to an agreement between two individuals, typically neighbors. Driveways, fences, farming arrangements, and forest management agreements are common scenarios in which these can be utilized.

Public Easements

A public easement is meant to benefit the public. This category includes utility easements, as well as things like sidewalks, public parks, and roadways. In addition to connecting sewer lines, power lines and maintaining public property, utility companies also use properties for general maintenance.

Effects on Your Property

A utility company provides water, energy, and sewage services to homes, neighborhoods, and communities. Usually, easements are created by agreements incorporated into the property deed. Most easements must only be accepted by the property owners. As a result of Tennessee utility easement laws, utility companies cannot use the property in any way they desire. Nevertheless, it may still be possible to develop a work area based on their specifications.

For example, trees can be protected from damaging utility lines by restricting their location. It is also possible for utilities to cut trees in order to gain access to public infrastructure, such as power lines. There is the possibility of creating new easements for utility companies 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

Several termination options are available for utility easement agreements in Tennessee. Initially, an easement can be abandoned by the utility company itself. Many reasons can lead to the choice of a new location, including a loss in utility lines. Utility easement contracts can also have an expiration date. Having passed that 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, Nashville Real Estate, Real Estate Attorney