Property Easements in Ontario
Monday Sep 25th, 2023
In plain English an easement gives a person, company or government the right to use someone else’s real estate for a specific purpose. The most common easement is a right of way which lets someone pass through your property without trespassing. The property owner still owns the land, but they have given someone the right to use the land in a particular way. Easements are different from leases or rentals as they don’t involve payments. The property owner has just given someone else the legal right to use their land in a specific way.
The land in question is known as the servient lands and the dominant owner is the party that will be receiving the easement benefit.
Reasons for easements
- To allow access to a neighbour to use a piece of your property to access their property
- Allow utility or service vehicles access to provide services like electricity, gas, water…
- Protect the environment
- Preserve historical sites
If you are buying a home with an easement it is important to know what limitations this could place on your land use. As the land owner you need to make sure a buyer is aware of the easement and accepts it.
To find out if a property has an easement you need to contact the Land Titles Office or Online Property Registry where the property is located. This can be done by searching online.
There are two types of easements
Easements in Gross
Utility companies often use them. They are not attached to any particular piece of land. This means they can be transferred or sold to someone else. It is important to note that they may not always be found on a property title.
They are attached to a particular piece of land. An easement for access over your neighbour's driveway would be an appurtenant easement. This is attached to your land, and it would stay with the ground even if you sold it.
Easements can be created several ways.
- An agreement between two parties, often done by two neighbours.
- A prescription could be created over a period of time if your neighbour passed over a piece of land uninterrupted for 20 years.
- A judicial decree could order a specific piece of land by used as an easement if one neighbour was refusing to let their neighbour use a piece of their property.
For specific information on how to negotiate an easement or what types of easements exist, please consult a legal professional