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Before purchasing commercial property, check for easements

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2020 | Real Estate & Development

Commercial property deals require significant research and inspection. Many sellers inflate the value of their property by hiding defects or imminent repairs. For thorough vetting, realtors or company lawyers will check with the local government zoning commission on property easements.

An easement against a commercial property allows for its legal use by another party. Buyers should understand the easements against a property before purchasing.

Standard easements against properties

Easements protect one’s right to property ownership, including the right to enter and leave one’s property. An easement against a commercial property will not differ from those against residential land. Typical easements allow neighboring landowners limited access to one’s property, either through a shared driveway or running buried utilities.

The “dominant” property benefits from the easement against the “servient” parcel of land.

Buyers will run into these four types of easements:

  1. By necessity: Created by court orders, these easements concern property access. Judges create these when the dominant parcel owner cannot access their property without access to the servient parcel of land.
  2. By prescription: Dominant owners can claim these easements after extended use of a property they do not own, but of which the servient owner is aware. Arizona law awards prescriptive easements after ten years of continued use. Examples include farming land that is not owned without objection.
  3. By condemnation: These easements concern a parcel of land needed for the “public good.” Examples include highway construction, utility infrastructure, or even nature conservation. The government will usually compensate the servient owner, possibly through tax deductions.
  4. Party easement: Two consenting parties create these easements via legally binding agreement. Many party easements concern shared use of a wall, fence or amenity, like a water feature or parking lot.

Shopping for commercial real estate? Consider legal help

Whether looking for a storefront for a second location or need more warehouse space, business owners find more success working with a local attorney familiar with Arizona real estate law. An attorney can recommend commercial inspectors and draft comprehensive purchasing contracts.