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An easement is the grant of a nonpossessory property interest that provides the easement holder permission to use another person's land. There are different kinds of easements. If an easement appurtenant is granted, it involves two pieces of land, where one serves as the servient tenement that bears the burden, and the other the dominant tenement, which benefits from the grant of the easement and has permission to use the servient land in some manner.

While there are several different “kinds” of easements, there are two “types” of easements specifically: affirmative and negative. 

  • An affirmative easement gives the easement holder the right to do something on the grantor of the easement's land, such as travel on a road through the grantor's land. 
  • On the other hand, a negative easement allows the easement holder to prevent the grantor of the easement from doing something on their land that is lawful for them to do, such as building a structure that obscures light or a scenic view.

Easements can be created in a variety of ways. They can be created by an express grant, by implication, by necessity, and by adverse possession. Easements are transferrable and transfer along with the dominant tenement.Easements can also be terminated. An easement can be terminated if it was created by necessity and the necessity ceases to exist, if the servient land is destroyed, or if it was abandoned.

Illustrative Cases:

See e.g., Corrarino v. Byrnes, 841 N.Y.S.2d 122 (N.Y. App. Div. 2007); Spier v. Horowitz, 791 N.Y.S.2d 156 (N.Y. App. Div. 2005)

[Last updated in October of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team