Estate Limitations

Estate Limitations

As you have learned, owning real estate can have many benefits. However, estates do come with limitations. For example, an interest in real estate allows someone else to use your property for specific purposes. Most of the time, this use is not extensive and is usually necessary for the using estate or owner. The key to remember is that owning an estate does not come without restrictions and here are some more to consider.


Easements provide special rights to people who don’t own property to use a property for their benefit. Usually, the beneficiary is an adjacent property owner but sometimes is another party, like a utility company. Easements typically fall into one of two main categories, appurtenant or in gross. An appurtenant easement benefits a neighboring property while an easement in gross benefits another person rather than a piece of property.

Access Easement

Access easements allow for a person to cross a piece of land to reach another property. These easements most often exist when one property is landlocked by other properties or lacks access to a public right-of-way.

Utility Easement

These are held by utility companies in order to put lines on private property. In return, the property owner gains access to the utility.

Drainage Easement

Drainage easements prohibit the disruption of drainage patterns on a property owner’s land.

Restrictive Covenants

Sometimes neighbors will agree to do or not do something for the benefit of all. These agreements are called restrictive covenants. Neighboring landowners may agree to either do something or abstain from something in order to make the neighborhood a better place. Some examples of restrictive covenants are limiting the use of a lot to one single-family home, limiting construction to certain architectural styles, and setting limits on the minimum or maximum size of a dwelling. Restrictive covenants are sometimes referred to as Conditions, Covenants, and Restrictions (CCRs).


A lien is attached to property when the buyer must borrow money to make the purchase. For example, when you borrow money to buy real estate, your property becomes collateral and can be taken away if you fail to pay the mortgage or the tax on the property. Mortgages are liens. The lien ensures payment to the person you owe and is attached to your loan until the property is paid off. If an owner fails to pay a lien, the holder of the lien can foreclose or have the property sold to secure the funds to pay the claim.

Water Rights

People who own land bordering a body of water (lake, stream, etc.) have riparian rights. These property owners can access and use the water but may not alter the natural flow of the water. In some states, mostly in the west, owners may divert water for a beneficial purpose, like irrigating crops. These are called usufructuary rights.

Accretion and Erosion

Sometimes, the landscape changes naturally due to environmental processes. Accretion is the process by which land is gained through natural processes. This most often occurs when there is a change in the flow of water. A loss of soil through this process is called avulsion while an increase in deposits is called alluvium. Finally, erosion is the gradual loss of land due to the wearing away of soil by natural processes like wind or water. Erosion can threaten the support and foundations of buildings over time.

Owning an estate comes with limitations including interest for easements, liens, restrictive covenants, water rights, accretion, and erosion. Understand these main ideas and you will have a good knowledge of estate limitations.

Real Estate Limitations

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