An easement gives an individual or a company (grantee), the right to use land for a particular purpose. An easement can restrict how the owner of the land (grantor) can use their property.
Common easements include:
- pathways and walkways
- for the supply of utilities - eg water, electricity, gas
- access roads
- the right to park a vehicle
- party walls.
Easements and rights of way that are registered on a certificate of title will remain as the land is bought and sold. It can only be removed when both the easement holder and the owner of the land agree to it. Some easements may not be listed on the certificate of title - eg electricity, sewerage and water, telecommunication easements.
If SA Water has a sewer pipe positioned under your land it is likely they will have an easement on your property. This entitles them to access the land to repair, maintain or replace this pipe.
How an easement can affect property
There may be restrictions placed on how you can use the property and the land the easement covers. This can include building on the easement. When applications for development approval are lodged, any registered easements will be taken into consideration.
You may not be able to build in an area that would restrict access to the easement, or to fence off a right of way to prevent access. Other types of restrictions may apply - eg you may not be able to plant certain types of trees on or near a water pipe.
Before you start any digging works on your property
How to find out if an easement is registered
The certificate of title may have information about any easements and their location on the property. A plan may be attached to the certificate of title showing the exact location.
You can contact the easement holder for more information on its size and location.
You can engage the services of a professional surveyor to locate and measure the easement on the property.
If you are planning to buy a property your registered conveyancer or solicitor will be able to locate information on your behalf about any easements registered. This information will also be included in the buyer's information notice and the vendor's statement that the vendor or their agent will provide. You should carefully consider all the potential implications of an easement on a property before you sign the contract of sale.
As a land owner you can refuse a request to register an easement but in rare circumstances some statutory bodies - eg SA Water, can register an easement without your permission.
Getting an easement registered, changed or removed
It is strongly recommended that you engage the services of a registered conveyancer or solicitor if you intend to register, remove or change an easement.
Register an easement
An easement is registered by completing a grant of easement form and lodging this with the Land Titles Office (LTO). A fee is payable for lodging this. For an alternative version of this document contact Land Services.
When an easement is first created you may be able to negotiate for compensation from the grantee. Once an easement is registered you can't refuse the grantee the use of, or access to, the easement.
Change or remove an easement
An easement can only be changed or removed when both you and the grantee agree to it. If no agreement between the grantor and grantee can be reached the matter can be taken to court for a decision.
To have an easement removed or changed complete an application to extinguish or vary an easement and lodge this with the LTO. A fee is payable for lodging this. For an alternative version of this document contact the Land Services.
Training material for industry professionals
On this site
Easements and rights of way fact sheet - For an alternative version of this document contact LSG.
Buyer's information notice - For an alternative version of this document contact Consumer and Business Services
SA Water easements - For an alternative version of this document contact SA Water