Real Estate Interests

Fee Simple Interest

Real Estate rights are often described as varying types of “sticks” in a “bundle” of rights. In this example, the “fee simple” interest is the whole bundle of sticks. The ownership of a fee simple interest in real estate means that the owner possesses all rights to the real estate.

Permanent Easement

An easement is a non-possessory interest in a portion of real estate. Whoever has an easement does not own the real estate that is subject to the easement. Ownership remains with the landowner. However, the easement allows another person to use the real estate for a specific purpose. A permanent easement is a permanent right to use the real estate. Utility companies commonly acquire permanent easements on a private real estate for the placement of their gas, water and wastewater pipelines and overhead electrical power lines.

Temporary Easement

A temporary easement is another type of non-possessory interest in real estate, but the interest expires after a period of time. Temporary easements are usually needed to access another area of real estate or as an area where construction equipment can operate, usually when installing, constructing or repairing public roadways, pipelines, power lines or other facilities for public purposes.

Exclusive Easement

An exclusive easement allows the grantee, and no other parties, to use the real estate for the purpose(s) stated and according to the other terms stated in the easement agreement. The easement holder may be allowed certain uses of the real estate as provided in the agreement. Another easement could be granted over the same real estate if it poses no burden or interference with the existing exclusive easement and does not otherwise violate the terms of the exiting exclusive easement.

Non-Exclusive Easement

A non-exclusive easement may be one where the right is shared with the public or community. For example, a driveway easement or common area easement in a planned development. Or, it may be that the grantor of the easement specifically granted a ‘non-exclusive’ easement, reserving rights for the grant, its successors and assigns, to use and/or convey subsequent easements over the same real estate. Essentially, multiple parties may be using the real estate for the same purpose(s).

Access Rights

Access rights, also known as ingress and egress rights, can be granted by a landowner to another person or entity to allow for the right to enter and leave the landowner’s real estate. In many cases, access rights are granted so that another person or entity can access an easement on the landowner’s real estate, for example, a grant of access rights to a utility company to maintain facilities located within a permanent easement on the landowner’s real estate. Access rights, like easements, can be either permanent or temporary and are oftentimes included in the language of a grant of easement. However, if access rights are granted separately from an easement, it is important to ensure that the access rights are recorded. Complications with access rights can arise when these agreements are not recorded in writing when the rights are not specifically defined and when a current landowner is unaware of the access rights on the real estate. Further complications can arise when access to the real estate is blocked or obstructed or when the inclement weather becomes an issue.

Right of Entry

A landowner can grant rights that allow another party to access his or her real estate for a specific purpose, such as to begin construction. A right of entry can be granted so that another party can conduct a field surveyor clear trees, for example. The individual with access rights is allowed to be present on the real estate and many times cannot impact it in any way. If the real estate is impacted, the landowner may be able to pursue a claim for damages.


When landowners give a “license” to a person or entity to use their real estate, they are allowing the other party to use the real estate for a specific purpose. The individual who is granted the license, known as a “licensee,” does not gain any possessory interest in the real estate, and the license does not transfer with the real estate if ownership transfers.


A lease is a limited conveyance of real estate in exchange for payment. Basically, a lease rents the real estate. The interest in the leased real estate will usually expire after a specific period as included in a lease document unless the lease is renewed or renegotiated. Leasing is common with all types of real estate, including residential, commercial and industrial.

Life Estate

A life estate is granted from a landowner to another person, and conveyance of an interest in the real estate is for the duration of the life of the person who has the life estate. When the person with the life estate dies, the real estate interest will either revert to the landowner or it may pass to another person or entity.

Mineral Interests

Landowners who own real estate in fee simple own the land and whatever interests are beneath the land. As a result, they have the right to grant an interest in the minerals or other resources underneath their land to another party. Such an interest is usually limited to a grant of the right to mine or otherwise collect the designated mineral or resource and to transport the mineral or resource off the landowner’s real estate. Landowners can also lease, rather than sell, their mineral rights to another party or entity.


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