Understanding Tennessee's Utility Easement Laws

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By Rochford Law Posted on September 15, 2021 at 3:20 PM

In the case of real estate purchases, rather than renting, you are now free to use the property to your liking while following the codes and laws of the locality. However, there are times when others can use your property in a certain way, even if they don't have ownership rights. Utility easements are one of the most common versions of this concept.

Power lines and water pipes must run over and below our houses in order to deliver power and water to public facilities. Occasionally city employees can work on private property. You can avoid the stress that comes with knowledge of Tennessee utility easement laws by understanding them beforehand.

Here’s what you need to know about utility easements in Tennessee before reaching out to a real estate attorney:

1. What are Easements?
2. Implied Easements
3. Express Easements
4. Private Easements
5. Public Easements
6. Utility Easement Effects
7. Ending a Utility Easement

What Are Easements?

A utility easement is a parcel of land that gives utilities access to private property in the interests of the community. If a tree in your backyard is interfering with telephone lines, a utility company may be entitled to remove it. In addition to easements by necessity, private easements, and prescription easements also exist.

The most common easement, however, is the utility easement. Homeowners may find utility easements inconvenient. However, they do provide a number of benefits. Utility companies, for example, may struggle to offer water, electricity, and sewage to meet our modern lifestyles without these types of easements.

An easement is thus necessary to benefit the whole community. The result of a utility easement will, however, always be a written agreement. A local real estate attorney can help you maneuver through these scenarios.

Types of Easements

An easement is generally a right to use part of another's property for a particular purpose. When a home is sold, there is usually a contract that stipulates these agreements. Certain circumstances can result in an easement being created without a contract. For example, land can be used for a proper purpose for an extended period of time, thus establishing an easement based on prior use.

If you are unsure about specific utility easements based on your property, connect with a local real estate attorney to determine the best solutions and resources for you.

Here are some of the types of utility easements you may come across:

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 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 public.

Ending a Utility Easement

Tennessee law provides a couple of ways for utility easement agreements to be terminated. Utility companies can abandon an easement themselves. There are various reasons for choosing the new location, including the disappearance of a utility line. Utility easement contracts can also have an expiration date. In the event that this date passes without the easement being renewed, it will expire.

Some utility companies will buy properties in which easements exist, effectively terminating the easement. An owner of a property can also terminates an easement if the easement is being grossly misused. Most situations in which an easement will need to be terminated will require the help of a real estate attorney.

Hire a Professional Tennessee 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

It’s best to cover all your bases, though it can be comforting to know that should a dispute pop up, a real estate attorney can help find a resolution.

Contact Rochford Law & Real Estate Title today! 

Topics: Easement Law, Easements, Nashville Real Estate, Real Estate Attorney