There are many issues you need to be aware of when buying a property, not the least of which will be easements. What are they? How you identify them? And should you be concerned about their existence? Andrew Mirams helps us with answers to all those questions and more.
Kevin: You might come across this when you’re buying a property, and you might not even be aware that it is happening, but what’s an easement, an easement over a property, and how does it impact the purchase price or how does it impact the purchase? Andrew Mirams from Intuitive Finance is very much in tune with this.
G’day, Andrew. How are you doing?
Andrew: I’m very well, Kevin, and how about you?
Kevin: Yes, mate, I’m fantastic. Thank you. Now you’d be very aware of this. Do you see many people who are not aware of what an easement is when they come to buy a property?
Andrew: It’s a great question, Kevin. It’s very regular, especially in Melbourne, that there will be lots of easements where there’s storm water and things like that, I guess. It goes right back to when the cities were first born, I guess, and there was certain infrastructure put in and people have requirements for drainage, sewerage. It might be carriageway and things like that.
Kevin: Even access easements. Back in the old days, before we had sewerage, they had to get there somehow, and they needed to have those passageways to do it, didn’t they, Andrew?
Andrew: That’s exactly right. Just so that people understand what an easement is, it actually gives someone else a right to have access to that part of your land. So, like I said, if you have drains or things like that that are running in or around your property, you can’t or you shouldn’t really build on those, because if ever there was a block and a water authority or someone like that needed access… It can be common with electricity, too, and pits like that can be placed underground. They need to have access to that so if there’s a block or if there’s some access required, they need to be able to get there.
Kevin: When you go into the process of helping someone buy a property and sort their finance out for them, are you regularly helping them find out where these easements are and giving them access to that information, Andrew?
Andrew: Yes. They’re in the relative contracts depending on the state-based authority. All are a little bit different, but they have to know. In a contract, say, in Victoria, they will absolutely be listed in the section 32, and they’re drawn as a mark on your title. It’s obvious, and it’s one of the things that your solicitor or conveyancer will make you aware of, that there are easements on the property. So, if you are planning on building or changing or doing improvements to your property, it might just mean there are some restrictions around what you can do.
Kevin: I know agents and a lot of sellers listen to the show, and it’s something they need to be aware of, because I’ve seen contracts actually filed because of an undeclared easement. Maybe no one knew about it, but it certainly wasn’t declared to the point of listing or the point of sale.
Andrew: Absolutely. That’s a great point, Kevin. If someone has grand plans of building a great addition onto this property and there’s a property at the back that requires access, it’s obviously going to mean you’re going to have some restrictions and restraints around what you can do.
You just need to be very careful about what the easement is, what it relates to. Certainly not a right of passage but for some older easements that may not even be in place anymore, you might be able to still get a council approvement to build on or around or near them. But you just need to be very careful with that across all the states.
Kevin: Those beneficial easements, too – or access easements, as I think you referred to them there – typically, maybe your neighbor may need a little bit of land. You don’t have to give it to them or sell it to them, but you can actually give them access to it to use it for their benefit.
Andrew: Yes, that’s right. That’s a great point, Kevin. You just need to make sure that any time you’re looking to buy and sell a property, that the easement is declared and the purpose or the use of it or who has the right of access to that.
Kevin: Yes. It even down to you need to talk to your solicitor, too, because not all rights to an easement will pass from one property owner to another. You need to make sure that you get all that clarified and that you can actually pass it on to someone else.
Andrew: Absolutely. And not all easements are created equal, too, so that’s certainly where you need a legal opinion and then a little bit of local knowledge. Turn to your local council and getting some feedback from them would be really important. Research as always, Kevin, is the key.
Kevin: Bottom line, Andrew, your advice is make sure you check all of these things out, work closely with your solicitor and go in fully armed with all the knowledge that you need, both as a buyer and as a seller.
Andrew: Absolutely, Kevin. Yes, spot on.
Kevin: Good on you. Andrew Mirams from Intuitive Finance. You can use any one of the links on any one of the pages on Real Estate Talk to contact Andrew and his team.
Thanks for your time, mate.
Andrew: My pleasure, Kevin. Thanks.