Homebuyer Information Guide: Easements in Detail
Easements in Detail
The types of easements on your property could include:
Private Access Easements
Access to your property may be gained by crossing over another property, or others may drive over your property to get to theirs. It is important to know your rights and restrictions when living on a private road. VDOT does not maintain private roads. Snow removal, maintenance and repairs is up to the grantees of the easement.
The details of location of the easement can often be found on the plat of your property and the details of who can use your road and who is responsible for maintenance of private roads can often be found in deeds or stand-alone legal documents.
Open Space Easements
Some properties are encumbered by Open Space easements that place limitations on further subdivision and may place restrictions on building, subdividing and/or use. Typically, these easements are granted to the county or an entity such as the Virginia Outdoors Foundation. The details of the open space terms and conditions can often be found in deeds or stand-alone legal documents.
To locate utility easements on your property, you may contact:
Setbacks, Yards and “BRL” (Building Restriction Line)
These terms refer to the area on the lot that needs to be unoccupied by any structure, from the ground to the sky. This minimum distance by which any building or structure must be separated from the lot line, or right-of-way or building, etc, can often be found on the plat of the property. It is always a good idea to double check this information by contacting the Building and Development Department Hotline at 703-777-0118.
Unlike more dense urban and suburban areas where property is generally served by state or municipal roads and where easements for access or other activities are clearly marked, rural properties may not have direct access to easements, may not be served or maintained by public entities and the easements may not be readily apparent. You must exercise caution and due diligence in evaluating easements on the property.
The types of easements could include:
- State Maintained Road
- Private Maintained Road
- Association Maintained
- Private Road Maintenance
- Joint/Shared Driveways
- Limitations on building/subdividing on lots served by private roads
Often, when a parcel is subdivided, the owners or developer will place certain covenants or restrictions on the development or use of the property. In some cases, where the property is managed by an active homeowners association, those restrictions will be disclosed and will be actively enforced and possibly change over time; however, many more properties are potentially affected by recorded restrictive covenants recorded prior to 1970, which may not be revealed by a standard title search and which may, or may not, have been actively enforced.
To Determine the Easements on Your Property
All easements on your property should be shown on your plat, or described within the title documents. A copy of your plat may be available for viewing by the Clerk of the Circuit Court’s Land Records Division
. The Department of Building and Development
can review the purpose and specifics of any public easements on your property.