Where to Find Easement Information

Last Updated: August 29, 2020

In this article we explain how to find a description and probably a diagram of a driveway easement. Your county courthouse will help you locate this information on a subdivision plat or other recorded document. Read more below.

Visitor Question: I have lost my original contract to my home. There is a variance listed on it for use of a small portion of my neighbor's property for my driveway. Would this information be listed on my deed?

Editors Answer: It is certainly possible that the information about your right to use part of your neighbor's property for your own driveway, or as part of your driveway, would be shown on your deed.

We have learned over the years that local customs and state laws generate quite a few variations in the way real estate transactions and topics are handled, even within the U.S. So we have to say the answer to your question is maybe.

It is also quite possible that this right to use a driveway is not written into your own deed, but instead is shown on your neighbor's deed.

While this right to use part of your neighbor's property may well have been described to you as a variance, a more universally descriptive term would be easement, by the way. That's why we changed the title of your submittal.

The sure way to determine whether an easement has been recorded, and is therefore enforceable, is by checking with your county office that records deeds and other real estate-related documents. Usually this is called the recorder of deeds. Just ask someone there to help you find out if there was an easement granted by the owner of your neighboring property. Be sure to have the address of your neighbor's property handy when you go there.

Then by all means, get a photocopy of the document that grants you the easement so that this does not become an issue somewhere in the future when a conflict arises or when there is a new owner of the property next door.

If the office of the recorder of deeds cannot find anything about this easement, by all means try to correct that situation by having a formal easement drawn up by an attorney, signed by your neighbor, and recorded at the court house. This is the surest way to make sure that your right of ingress and egress is not interrupted in the future.

Again, you might have to adjust this advice based on local custom, so you could ask about this at the recorder of deeds office. In some states attorneys are routinely employed for every real estate transaction, but in others, the real estate agents and brokers, as well as title companies, are the guardians of whether proper legal steps have been taken to secure rights that have been described orally to new buyers.

This should help you have the right conversations to make sure everything is proceeding as you expected when you bought your property.

  1. Community Development
  2. Community Development Questions
  3. How to Find Out About a Driveway Easement

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Easement Removed from County Records
by: Anonymous

Is there a way to show there was an easement for a property that is now land locked? The easement was between two houses and now what only remains is some bricks from maybe 100 years ago that shows location of where the easement used to be; however, grass has now covered the area and it looks like the surveyors took advantage of the easement and split between the two houses.

Editors Comment: The title you gave this comment seems to indicate that a county records search no longer shows this easement. Re-establishing the easement through legal means will require both detective work to try to uncover the original easement document and probably some legal work even if you have the precise information about the original easement. It probably will be easier and cheaper to try to obtain easements from the current owners of the two houses in question. Depending on state laws and legal precedents, you might have to pay for the easement anyway. Talk with a local real estate attorney about likely results and costs for both (1) the detective and legal work to re-establish the original easement versus (2) the approach of just starting fresh with the current property owners. Of course, the attitude of the current owners toward this will be an important factor in your decision making as well. If you haven't talked with them, start there, since that information would be useful to your attorney.

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Lost my easement
by: Mike

I had a driveway easement created when I sold the property behind my property. Twenty years later I found out the easement was never filed. The title company never filed it with the county. To make a long story short, I was kicked off my driveway. Two years later I was told to check with the County environmental department, which is different than county land records. Since myself and the neighbors have a private septic system, the environmental department had a plot map from a land survey with details of my easement. I'm hoping to track down the guy that did the survey to see if he has a copy of the easement in his records.

Editors Comment: That's an interesting story. The moral is should not be surprising to any of us; mistakes do happen. Checking with a different department of your county government was a good idea.

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