Back to Basics: What is an Easement?

In this blog series, we aim to get back to basics – that is, to explain some foundational concepts about the kind of law we practice here at Hansen, Howell & Wilkie, PLLC. Today’s key term: easement.

In basic terms, an easement is an interest in real property that is less than fee simple ownership.  If you grant someone an easement, you give them the right to use your real property in some way.

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Recent SCOTUS decision: Tyler v. Hennepin County

In a closely-watched property rights case out of Minnesota, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a rare 9-0 decision on May 25th, reversing a lower court ruling and holding in favor of the property owner, Geraldine Tyler.

The case of Tyler v. Hennepin County centers on 94-year-old Geraldine Tyler, who owed about $15,000 in property taxes and fees on her condo.  Hennepin County foreclosed on the condo and sold it for $40,000.  (Note that the foreclosure itself is not the unconstitutional taking.)  The County kept the additional $25,000 for itself.  Tyler, represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, argued that argued that keeping excess funds from tax sales violates the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment.  The Justices agreed:   “The taxpayer must render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but no more.”