If you are purchasing or already own a property with one or more easements, it is important to understand what easements are and how they affect your property.
Easements give organizations or individuals the right to access and utilize a portion of private property for a specific purpose. The way in which an easement can be used and the restrictions it may place on the property owner vary, depending on the specific easement.
There are a variety of different types of easements. Below are some of the most common easements found within the City of Altoona.
- Ingress / Egress
- Pedestrian Access
These easements allow physical access across a portion of private property in order to reach another location. Depending on the easement, this may allow vehicular access or merely walking access. Residents cannot build over or fence around or across access easements.
- Overland Flowage
- Stormwater Drainage
- Surface Water
In order to keep heavy rains from flooding houses, some developments are graded to accumulate water in a small ditch that runs along the edge of several properties. Drainage easements are used along these corridors to make sure property owners do not disrupt the intended flow of water. Homeowners cannot place buildings inside drainage easements or change the surface grade within the easement. Fences may be built across drainage easements, but they must allow water to flow underneath the fence.
- Monument Sign
These easements are used to establish a specific aesthetic in a development. Some easements require certain landscaping elements, such as trees or open grass. Others have no landscaping requirements other than to prohibit structures from being built across the easement. Signage easements are typically used by developers who have installed a sign at the entrance of the development. The easement would restrict the homeowner from removing or concealing the sign.
- Public Utility
- Sanitary Sewer
- SE Polk Water Line
- Storm Sewer
- Water Main
These easements are used to route utilities underground through private property. Homeowners may not build on top of or plant landscaping inside the easement area. These easements allow utility providers to install new utilities in the easement area as well as physically access any existing utilities within the easement area. Utility providers may even dig within the easement area, but they are required to restore the easement surface upon completion of their construction. While most of the utilities are located underground, handholds and pedestals may be placed at or above ground level to provide utility providers easy access to their equipment.
Building setbacks are not technically easements, but they are a legal encumbrance on the property. Property owners cannot install physical structures inside of a building setback. This includes sheds, pools, fences, and more. Building setbacks are typically located along the outer edges of a property.