Michigan Easement Law

An easement creates a non-possessory right of use in another's land. Generally, an easement may be used for a very limited purpose and the easement holder is prohibited from expanding his use of the easement without the consent of the landowner.

Easements in Michigan

Easements are typically divided into two classes: 1) easements appurtenant and 2) easements in gross.

  • Easements appurtenant benefit a specific parcel of land regardless of ownership. Easements appurtenant are characterized by the existence of a dominant tenement and a servient tenement. The dominant tenement is the property which benefits from the easement. The property that is burdened by the easement is called the servient tenement.
  • Easements in gross benefit a particular individual or company. Easements in gross terminate upon the death of the easement holder and cannot be sold or assigned.

Creating and Forming Easements

An easement may be granted for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common easements are:

  • Right-of-way Easements;
  • Solar Easements;
  • Driveway Easements;
  • Drainage Easements;
  • Light and Air Easements; and
  • Conservation Easements.

Express Easements - Express easements are favored under the law and may be made by deed, contract or other written instrument. An express easement generally sets forth the scope, location, and dimensions of the easement.

Easement by Necessity – An easement by necessity arises either by grant or reservation. The party claiming the easement by necessity must demonstrate that the easement is reasonably necessary to the enjoyment of the benefited property. An easement by necessity is based on the presumed intent of the parties and is grounded in the fact that public policy favors the productive and beneficial use of property.

Easements By Prescription – To establish an easement by prescription, a claimant must show that his use of the property over which he claims the easement has been open, notorious, and adverse and has continued for a period of fifteen years.

Easements By Implication – Three elements must be proven to establish an easement by implication:

1. That during the unity of title an apparently permanent and obvious use was imposed on one part of the property for the benefit of another part of the property;
2. That said use was continuous; and
3. That the easement is reasonably necessary for the fair enjoyment of the property it benefits.

Easement Boundary Disputes

One of the most common easement disputes involves misuse. Because easements are granted for a specific purpose, an easement holder does not have the right to use the easement for other purposes. Nor does the easement holder have the right to change the location or size of the easement.

Disputes also arise when a landowner interferes with the easement holder's use of the easement. Once a landowner grants an easement, he is prohibited from interfering with the easement holder's legitimate use of the easement. Additionally, the landowner cannot change the location or dimensions of the easement.

Help from a Real Estate Attorney in Michigan for Easements

If you are involved in an easement dispute, you should consult with an experienced real estate attorney. An attorney will review the facts of your case along with any supporting documentation, such as a title search and survey, and recommend an appropriate course of action.

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