An easement is a right to use land that belongs to another person. The owner of the land grants the easement holder a right to use the land for a specific purpose. Otherwise, the Georgia easement holder does not have the right to possess and enjoy the owner's land. An easement lasts for a perpetual duration, and when the easement comes into disrepair, the easement holder has the duty to perform maintenance on the easement.
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When an easement benefits one parcel of land while it burdens another adjoining parcel of land, that is called an "easement appurtenant." The parcel receiving the benefit is known as the dominant estate while the parcel bearing the burden is known as the servient estate. An estate is dominant when its owner has an easement over the adjoining parcel of land. An estate is servient when the owner of an adjoining parcel of land has an easement over this land. If ownership of the benefited land changes hands, the new owner also has an easement over the servient estate.
Easement In Gross
The holder of an easement in gross acquires the right to use another person's land independent of his possession or ownership of another parcel of land. The easement does not benefit a parcel of adjoining land. It only burdens one parcel of land: the servient estate. An easement "in gross" can be for personal or commercial use. For example, you could grant your friend an easement to use a path behind your house to get to the beach by foot. You could also grant Georgia Power Company an easement to run lines underneath your property.
Duty to Repair
Whether a property owner has granted an easement appurtenant or an easement in gross, the same person has the duty to repair the easement, and that is the easement holder. The property owner may use his land in any way he wishes as long as he does not interfere with the easement. He does not, however, have to make repairs to the easement unless he uses the easement along with the easement holder. In that case, a court can apportion repair costs.
Failure to Repair
In Georgia, a certain type of easement holder may run into trouble if he fails to provide upkeep for his easement. If a person wants an easement that exceeds 20 feet in width, he must petition the superior court for a judgment of condemnation. After the easement has been granted, the person who sought the easement must maintain the easement. If the easement holder fails to make repairs on the easement for one year, he effectively abandons the easement.
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