Have you ever looked out your window and seen a utility worker in your yard for seemingly no reason? Chances are, they are working in an easement. Utility easements are a standard part of every home, but many of us don’t understand what they are or how they are used.
Here are some of the most common questions we hear about utility easements.
WHAT IS AN EASEMENT?
A utility easement is a designated section of land that gives utility companies the right to access private property. They can include anything from running water, cable, electricity and fiber. The exact size and location of the easement may vary depending on the utility type. Most homes already have easements in place when you buy them. They stay with the land when it transfers owners and should be listed on the deed.
WHY ARE EASEMENTS IMPORTANT?
One of the critical pieces that define an easement is that it is in place for the good of the community. Easements allow utility workers to access the property to upgrade and repair lines as needed. Imagine having a power outage that originates from a pole in your neighbor’s yard. If that neighbor refuses to let the workers on the property to fix the outage, you can’t get your power back.
It also makes running the utility to your home more efficient and affordable. Without an easement in place, the utilities would have to run their lines around the outside edge of every piece of property. This snaking around would increase the amount of line needed to bring the service to a home. Those extra miles mean extra cost and would likely increase the price for that service.
WHEN CAN OEC FIBER ACCESS MY PROPERTY TO REACH AN EASEMENT?
The simple answer is whenever we need to work on fiber lines or equipment, but that doesn’t mean we can access it at will. Necessary work is required for us to access the easement. That can include anything from installing a line to trimming the trees growing into them. This is also why you may see restrictions on what can be placed in that part of your yard. Things like in-ground swimming pools or fencing may be prohibited in easements because they block access to the lines.
DOES OEC FIBER HAVE TO TELL ME BEFORE THEY ENTER THE PROPERTY?
While we try to contact homeowners before accessing the easement, it’s not always possible. If someone is not home when we knock on the door to alert them that we will be in their yard, that does not prohibit us from doing the work. Some situations, like outages, are unpredictable and time-sensitive. They leave us little to no time to notify homeowners before work begins.
WHAT DO I DO IF MY PROPERTY IS DAMAGED?
We do our best to avoid damage, but there are times when something unexpected happens. If we damage private property, we will do everything in our power to set it right. You can file a claim here. Our team will investigate the claim and do all we can to set it right if we are found at fault for the damage.
Easements are complicated. Hopefully, this brief introduction will help make things easier the next time you see a worker in your yard.