During the building of a community that will be governed by a homeowners’ association, many HOAs have to deal with easements to ensure that the appropriate individuals and entities have access to the spaces they need within the HOA community.
What’s an easement?
Generally speaking, it’s a legal right of use to a piece of property even though the ownership of that property remains in someone else’s hands.
When are HOAs likely to encounter easements?
Easements are common for utility workers, such as when there are cellphone towers, gas pipes, or power lines that require access through the HOA property for maintenance.
Easements sometimes also allow people to exercise a right-of-way through a piece of property at will. For example, maybe your HOA-controlled community has access to a beachfront. However, if there’s an easement granting the public the right to walk through a specific road or area on the way to the beach, your HOA cannot close off that access — for whatever reason — without violating the law.
An easement may also be what gives residents the right to pass through and use those common areas in your planned community, such as recreational facilities, tennis courts and the like. That prevents individual residents from blocking access to these areas if a pathway happens to intersect with their land.
Protecting the interests of the HOA is one of the most important duties of the association. Working closely with the attorney who represents the association can help you to ensure that you handle easements in a lawful manner so that there aren’t legal issues in the future. The lawyer can help the HOA determine if there are any existing easements that need to be preserved as the community is built and figure out how to address any complications.