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Is it your dream to purchase or build your home among a clearing in the woods somewhere? If so, you may want to make sure to have a home inspector, a title company or a real estate attorney complete a review of the property records to make sure that there’s no property line or easement dispute that’s going to cause you a headache on down the line before you buy.

In case you’re not completely clear as to what an easement is, it’s essentially a legal right someone may have attained to use your property or a portion of it as if it were their own.

Just because someone is legally entitled to use your piece of land doesn’t mean that they can do just anything on it, though. Instead, they’re restricted to using it for an explicit, stated purpose.

Both private individuals and public companies may have a legal right to your land.

If you have a waterfront property and the only way anyone can access the body of water is via a dock on your land, then their right to step foot on your parcel may be referred to as an “easement of necessity”.

Public corporations such as utility companies may also have a standing easement that allows them to come and dig a trench in your yard if necessary to install a cable, phone or power line.

Any prospective homeowner should review their homeowner’s association documents, plats and deeds to see if there are easements located on their property. If you’re uncomfortable with them, you may wish to not move forward with buying the land or home.

Virginia easements can be challenged in court. If you want one removed, then you can try talking with the person who holds it into relinquishing it. If it’s set to expire on a certain date, then you may rid yourself of the nuisance when it does.

Individuals who’ve had access to your Lynchburg property for a certain period of time may assert their “squatter’s rights” to it. If they do, then you may have to take them to court to gain exclusive access to your land. A real estate attorney experienced in preserving property rights for over 40 years can guide you in filing suit to claim your land for you alone.