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When is it not considered trespassing?

Whether it be for services or travel, other parties may have the right to pass through your land.

To make sure you know the rights of everyone involved, it is important to be aware of the differences between right-of-way and easement.

REIWA President Damian Collins said right-of-way was when a party that did not own the land had the right to walk or drive over the property.

On the other hand, an easement is where you have services going through your property.

“It could be Water Corporation water pipes or it could be electricity connections – they have the right to have those services provided through your land,” Mr Collins said.

“In Western Australia, in the city environment, it’s very rare you’re going to have someone who has a right-of-way over your land, but easements are very common.

“When the sewerage line is down the back of your property, Water Corporation has a guaranteed easement to that. They’re not walking over it, but they have access to it, so if they need to fix a sewer pipe down the back of your property they have the right to. You also cannot build over sewerage or in close proximity to a sewer line.”

The Agency Property Partner Rash Dhanjal said another instance of an easement was a suburban subdivision where a driveway was shared between homes.

He also outlined some instances where right-of-way can be in play in different contexts.

“This may be for the purpose of accessing another farm that’s inland from the main road and needs access to help the farmers live and operate their farm,” he said.

“Another example is laneway assess when it comes to properties with the garages at the rear, like what you would see in Scarborough, Doubleview or cottage blocks in newer estates across town.”

Mr Collins said another party having an easement or right-of-way to your property could be detrimental to some degree, as it meant it was a section of your land that you couldn’t utilise completely.

“You can utilise it for gardens, but you cannot build on it. Any easement on your property does limit your rights,” he said.

“Generally they’re done in such a way that it doesn’t impact too much because they’re usually along the boundary line, so it’s not like you’re going to necessarily build something on the boundary line anyway.

“Many properties have that, so as long as it’s managed well it doesn’t really have an impact or significance.”

Mr Dhanjal said to seek professional advice regarding what was right and wrong regarding right-of-way and easements, once you had a property and if you were looking to buy.

“It’s best to speak to a professional surveyor, settlement agent, the council or property lawyer to get advice on the rights you have,” he said.

“Take your time when you are purchasing property with an easement or right-of-way. Ask for all the information and see how that impacts your buying decision when purchasing a property.”

Although easements generally run along the back or side boundary of a property, Mr Collins said you should ask for a copy of plans.

“Get a copy of the title and also the Water Corporation sewerage plan to see if there are any easements, as there are implied easements which are not always shown on the title,” he said.

“Certainly they’re a couple of things you should be checking before you put on an offer.”

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