An easement over property is a right or legal interest that either benefits or burdens a parcel of land. It is commonly used to provide access to the sewerage, drainage and other necessary services for local councils, or alternatively to allow a right of way across neighbouring land without causing significant interference.
Easements are a property right that attaches to the land and accordingly, they are an interest that is enforced against successive landowners. Due to this, a standard REIQ contract contains clauses requiring disclosure of all easements on the property and futher state that failure to do so can result in a right for the buyer to terminate the contract.
Currently there is a vast amount of support for a reform into the statutory and common law requirements for the subject matter of an easement. In July 2012 The Property Concil of Australia submitted a consultation paper in support of introducing compulsory statutory easements, which in essence, proposes to reduce red tape and costs when purchasing small-lot residential units/townhouses.
The effect of statutory easements of this type would provide a legislative framework for the creation, recording and registration of easements over properties that share internal walls. It would also reduce the time and costs associated when surveying land, preparing, lodging and registering easement documentation and would also reduce the conveyancing costs for prospective purchasers.
Whilst there has not been any reform or change put in place yet, the introduction of this type of easement would be the first in Australia.