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A Blog about Real Estate, How it Can Be Damaged, and Disputes Over its Transfer

This blog is a personal blog written to discuss legal issues affecting Georgia property, and how it is damaged, transferred, and fought over. I write this partly to keep abreast of the law, and partly to offer a forum for my writing. In order to find content, I often analyze Georgia Supreme Court decisions. I try to update this blog as I can, but writing is a time consuming process.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Written Power Line Easements Are Contracts

An easement in Georgia is a right that a person or company enjoys in relation to another person's property.  Easements for storm water pipes, drainage courses, power lines, gas lines, driveways, and roads or access often exist on or across a property owner's property.  Many times, these easements are recorded in the deed records maintained by a county.  Where easements are recorded, the courts treat the easements as written contracts between the holder of the easement and the property owner across which the easement runs.   Georgia courts have explained this principle as follows in a case involving a Georgia Power Company easement:
That written easement constitutes a contract, and express easements are construed by applying the rules of contract construction. Municipal Elec. Auth. of Ga. v. Gold–Arrow Farms, 276 Ga.App. 862, 866(1), 625 S.E.2d 57 (2005). “Generally, this [easement] presents a question of law for the court, unless the language presents an ambiguity that cannot be resolved by the rules of construction.” Id. In construing a contract, if the terms are clear and unambiguous, the court looks to the contract alone—the easement itself—to determine the parties' intent. Parris Properties v. Nichols, 305 Ga.App. 734, 738(1)(a), 700 S.E.2d 848 (2010).
Richardson v. Georgia Power Co., 308 Ga. App. 341, 343, 708 S.E.2d 10, 12 (2011), reconsideration denied (Mar. 10, 2011).


  1. If Ga. Power approaches an owner for an easement for an underground power line, how much will Ga power negotiate on terms and limitations on the scope of the easement? Also, do they customarily expect to receive the easement without paying compensation?

  2. Georgia Power Company has employees who will address these issues in connection with their request for an easement. I would expect them to pay for any easements they acquire. Without offering any advice, I would also expect Georgia Power to negotiate the extent of the easement - depending on what it is that you are asking. I cannot say any more in a public setting since I do not want to offer any advice or comment.

  3. Thank you for your response. I would like to discuss this further with you. I am a 1986 graduate of Mercer Law School. May I contact you directly

  4. Who is responsible for sinkholes (deep ones) in the easement - property owner or easement owner?

  5. As a general rule, the owner of the dominant estate (i.e., the easement user) in the State of Georgia is responsible for maintenance of the easement. A sinkhole that is caused by the nature of the use would probably be the responsibility of the easement user and not the person whose property the easement crosses. But this is going to depend on the nature of the easement, whether there are written agreements or covenants that supplement or contradict the general rule, and facts of the particular situation.