When west Charlotte’s iconic Dairy Queen recently went up for sale, in addition to the $1.4 million asking price, the listing said the property has a slight easement for drainage. Did you know your property might have an easement too? And what does that mean?
An easement is part of a property that someone else can use for a specific purpose. In the case of the Dairy Queen, the drainage easement is managed by the city to keep water and sewer pipes working properly.
It’s important to know if there’s an easement on your property as well because there are rules about what you can and cannot do with that particular piece of land.
HOW DO I FIND OUT IF MY PROPERTY HAS AN EASEMENT?
When an easement is put in place, the property owner and the City sign an agreement that is recorded at the Register of Deeds office. But when you buy a home, easements aren’t typically detailed in the listing. There are three ways to find out if a property has an easement:
- Check with the Register of Deeds
- Call 311
- Have the property surveyed
WHAT IS ALLOWED IN AN EASEMENT?
- Fences with an access gate and no permanent features like stone or concrete
- Shrubs, flowers and plants with shallow roots, just not directly on top of a pipe
WHAT IS NOT ALLOWED IN AN EASEMENT?
- Most trees
- Swimming pools or tennis courts
- Anything that might block the flow of water
- Sheds or other buildings
- Irrigation systems
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN THE CITY NEEDS TO WORK IN AN EASEMENT
Charlotte Water does both preventative and repair work. They periodically assess easements for items that could block water flow, and remove trees and debris when necessary. When possible, they will let you know in advance when work will be done on your property. Crews may need to temporarily remove fences, pavement and landscaping. Charlotte Water will fix the pavement and re-grade, seed and fertilize the area, but they will not replace custom landscaping. That’s the property owner’s responsibility.
HERE’S WHAT STORM WATER SERVICES WON’T DO
Crews will not mow an easement on your property. They will not clean up sticks, leaves or debris after a storm. The city is also not responsible for any damage to your property from flooding or stormwater runoff.
WHAT IS A CONSERVATION EASEMENT?
These are natural areas that were created to both improve water quality and provide a habitat for certain wildlife, including birds, turtles, frogs and insects. Conservation easements are a vegetative buffer that removes pollutants, sediment and excess nutrients from stormwater runoff. As with drainage easements, there is a formal agreement between the property owner and the city and crews inspect those areas periodically.
There could be more under your property than you know. To learn more about easements visit Charlotte Water’s website.