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Dealing with utility easements on your property

Perhaps you have always wanted a place where you could grow your own vegetables or a butterfly garden. Maybe you dreamed of owning a piece of land where you could plant trees to create a shady haven. You may have plans for building a workshop, playhouse or patio. When you find the place where you can make those dreams come true, you will want to be sure there are no surprises lurking underground.

Your title should inform you if your property includes an easement for local utilities. This could include electricity, cable TV, or water and sewer lines running underground. It is common for utilities to take their lines and pipes straight through private property to keep their costs low, but having utilities on your land may complicate your plans.

Consider all the facts

An easement allows utility providers access to your property to maintain or repair the lines. It may also allow them to put equipment on your land, such as a transmission tower or cell phone tower. You still own the land, pay the taxes and have the right to use the property in a reasonable manner. Some utilities are willing to compensate property owners for an easement, but you will want to weigh that against these and other considerations:

  • The easement may restrict where you can build if your structure limits the utility's access to the lines or equipment.
  • The easement may prevent you from planting trees or other deeply rooted plants that may damage underground lines as they grow.
  • You may have to allow the utility to build on the easement.
  • When the utility needs to repair or maintain underground lines, you can expect them to drive large equipment onto your land and excavate. However, your easement may contain an agreement that the utility will repair damage to your lawn and replace any foliage.
  • Utility easements usually transfer with the land, which may complicate your efforts to sell in the future.

Whether you are considering purchasing land with an existing easement or a utility company is seeking an easement on your property, you likely have many questions. Understanding the terms of a utility easement is essential to ensuring your rights are protected and the company treats you fairly. Many Texas property owners facing easement issues consult with an attorney who can answer their questions and guide them through any conflicts.

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Sergi & Associates, P.C.
329 South Guadalupe Street
San Marcos, TX 78666

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