An easement is an interest in real property that conveys use, but not ownership, of a portion of an owner's property. Easements may be permitted for a specific portion of the property for many varied purposes. Governments, municipalities and public utilities use easements to establish access, restrictions and rights to property.

In short, an easement allows someone the right to use your property.

Easements: What Every Property Owner Should Know (PDF)

Type of Easements

There are many types of easements. Depending on type of property, the needs of public or private access, intended land use etc., an easement may be used when the landowners' rights require clarification and legal contracts are necessary between public and private parties. Easements may be conveyed for a limited period of time.

Some of the more common easements include public access for passage to landlocked parcels, water drainage and for public utilities access.

Other easements may permit restrictions of property along roadways or to comply with laws and ordinances.

Conservation Easements

Conservation easements are used to restrict the use of the property for conservation or wildlife habitat.

Impoundment Easements

Impoundment Easements serve the purpose of providing storage, flow, and retention of public drainage. They are defined on the plat by coordinates, elevations, and aggregate storage volume. No alteration of the lake or side slopes within the impoundment easement is permitted without permission from the Department of Public Works. The City reserves the right to conduct limited maintenance within the impoundment easement to provide for adequate storage and flow of stormwater.

Open Space Easements

Open space easements set land aside for non-building uses and may include three ownership categories: private open space adjacent to dwellings owned by individual residents, public open space owned by the government, and common open space owned by a community association and set aside for the use of residents.

Preservation Easements

Preservation easements are used to protect certain historic properties by restricting their use and maintaining their physical characteristics.

Drainage Easements

Drainage easements are the most common for the residents of Chesapeake. Since most of Chesapeake is flat and water drainage is relatively slow, when it rains, the stormwater must run through drainage easements to reach a normal outlet. Even though the Public Works Department will occasionally clean and inspect storm ditches, the property owner is still responsible for maintaining the easement. That may include controlling weeds to removing obstacles in the drainage.

Note: When more than routine maintenance is required (erosion of an embankment, large obstructions blocking water flow or extraordinary flooding), call the Chesapeake Customer Contact Center at 757-382-CITY (2489) to place a work request.

"Prescriptive" Easements

In order to maintain safe roadways, the city requires a clear line of sight at intersections. When signs, buildings, vegetation, bushes or trees, for example, obstruct a clear view, the city may require the property owner to remove the obstruction. As a matter of public safety, a "prescriptive easement" is not specifically granted, however, is understood.

Utilities Easements

Public Utilities will often maintain an easement to provide public services to the community. They may include, but are not limited to: water lines, sewer lines, etc. Easements can be provided for access above, below, or on the surface of the property.

More Information

Easements may be legally complicated and require careful review.

Before purchasing property, check to see if there are any easements on the parcel.

If you need specific answers on how an easement may affect your property and your rights as a property owner, you should contact the owner of the easements.

For Utility Easements (water and sanitary sewer), contact: the Public Utilities Engineering Division at 757-382-6671 or 757-382-6352.

For Drainage, Detention/Retention Easements, Non-ingress/Egress Easements, etc., contact: the Department of Public Works Right-of-Way Division at 757-382-6308 or 757-382-6101.