Q: On the plat map of a piece of property in a subdivision that I have been looking at a 26-foot easement is indicated at the back of the property. The plat map only says easement. Would this be a general utilities easement or is it possible that it could be some other kind of easement?

A: Your question would best be answered by a real estate attorney. But in general, subdivisions have easements along the rear, side and front areas of real estate lots to allow for utilities. In some cases these easements can be there to allow open space areas or setbacks between homes and other lots in the subdivision.

An easement gives the right to someone else to use a part of your property for another use. A utility easement to the electric company would allow the utility to maintain electrical wires, transformers and other equipment on the easement area, even if that area is in your back yard.

To know what your easement is for in your subdivision, the plat of survey for your lot should generally give a description of the easement, it may even say what it is for or it might reference another legal document that will give a better description for the easement. That reference might be to a recorded document number or the name of a declaration that affects the property.

In some cases, rear areas of lots could have an easement for water retention purposes that would allow water to accumulate during rain storms and that water would later drain out at a slower rate.

So take a look at your survey and other documents for your property and you should be able to find out more about the easement that affects the 26 feet at the rear of your property. For further details, please consult with a real estate attorney.

July 31, 2008.