Property Easements

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 legal right to access and utilize a portion of private property for a specific purpose.

Not all properties contain easements, but many of them do. If you are uncertain if your property has any easements, you can start by viewing the Property Information Viewer map below.
Property Information Viewer

Additionally, you can utilize the following methods to learn about easements on your property:

  • Reviewing your property deed
  • Contacting your title company
  • Visiting your local county recorder’s office
  • Hiring a land surveyor

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.

Access Easements
  • Access
  • Ingress / Egress
  • Pedestrian Access
  • Roadway
  • Sidewalk
  • Trail

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.

Drainage 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.

  • Landscaping
  • Signage
  • 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.

Utility Easements
  • Gas
  • Electric
  • Power
  • Public Utility
  • Sanitary Sewer
  • SE Polk Water Line
  • Storm Sewer
  • Telephone
  • 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
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.