There are two different types of easements that we normally deal with in commercial title insurance transactions:
- An Appurtenant Easement
- An Easement in Gross
Easement in Gross
An easement in gross is an easement that has no benefited parcel of land. Instead, there is only a parcel that it burdened by the easement and it’s usually a person or a party that holds the benefit of the easement. An easement in gross is personal to the party that receives the benefit of easement. An example of an easement in gross is an easement to a utility company to run a power line across a burdened piece of property. The utility company is the benefited party and there isn’t necessarily a benefited parcel of land.
An appurtenant easement is different in that it benefits a particular parcel of land rather than just a person or party. Typically, with proper drafting, an appurtenant easement is said to “run with the land.” This means that the easement continues, for its duration, to benefit the benefited parcel even if the benefited parcel is transferred or conveyed to another party. An example of an appurtenant easement would be an easement across your neighbor’s land (the burdened parcel) for driveway purposes so that the owner of your property (the benefited parcel) can drive across your neighbor’s land to access a public road.
Generally, title insurance companies will insure together with the benefit of appurtenant easements and not easement in gross. Though that’s not always the case. We have insured easements in gross on energy projects such as wind farms, refineries, solar farms, pipelines and so on.
Easement vs. License
A license is merely permission to use a particular parcel. Since a license may be discontinued at any time, it is not insurable. An example of a license would be: “I grant permission for the owner of Parcel 1 to cross the West 12 feet of Parcel 2 for ingress and egress, which permission may be terminated at my discretion.”