Definition: An easement in gross is a legal right granted to an individual allowing him or her to use property that doesn’t below to him or her. It is a type of permission that is considered void if the underlying property is sold, transferred or inherited by a party outside the easement in gross agreement.
What Does Easement in Gross Mean?
A person who owns a property has the right to allow others to use the premises as he wishes. Nevertheless, differently from a regular easement, which is an agreement that directly affects the land or property itself, an easement in gross is one that is tied to the current owner and to the beneficiary. In the situation that the property gets transferred to another party by any means, the easement in gross becomes null and the new owner is not bound to fulfill the parameters of the agreement anymore.
Therefore, the beneficiary can’t demand the fulfillment of such easement in that scenario, as the contract is attached to the individual and not the property itself. These agreements are very useful to permit others to access and use certain areas of a property. Their main benefit is that their non-transferable character avoids any depreciation on the property’s value, as the new owner will not have to honor such agreements.
Let’s look at an example.
Cory owns a commercial building that has a cafeteria that is run and maintained by a firm that has offices in the building. The firm does not pay to use the cafeteria. Instead, it has an easement allowing them to operate it.
The cafeteria is freely accessible to all people working on the premises through an easement in gross. Since the beginning of the agreement, the firm understood that the easement was just a way to allow the firm to provide a service for the people working there.
If Cory decides to sell the building or to transfer it to a third party, the new owners are not obligated to maintain the agreement, therefore, the cafeteria space might be used as a regular commercial space.