Is the Power Company Allowed on My Property?

Published on 05/10/2021

What Is a Utility Easement?

A utility easement is a designated portion of land that provides utility companies with the right to access your property for the purpose of laying, maintaining, or repairing typical utilities such as:
  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Water
  • Sewer
  • Propane
  • Telephone
  • Cable or internet
  • Satellite television
This type of easement is attached to the deed of your property, so it is maintained even if the property is sold or transferred.

These easements exist for the good of the community because it is much more efficient and cost-effective to run utility lines in straight pathways through neighborhoods rather than having to circumvent parcels of land.

Not only do easements help keep costs down by reducing the amount of material (lines, wiring, etc.) to provide service to the community, but they also lower ongoing maintenance costs by ensuring there are fewer feet of line to maintain.

However, you still own the land, the utilities simply have the right to use it to access their equipment.

How Do Easements Affect My Use of Property?

While utility easements don’t give utilities ownership of the property, they do restrict what home or business owners can do in the easement area. For example, you may not be able to plant tall trees and, if trees already exist in the easement, the power company can trim them as needed to protect utility lines.

Also, you would not be able to build any structure, above or below ground, in the easement which compromises the utilities’ equipment or prevents access.

In addition, you must call the public utility location services at 811 before you do any digging on your property. Known as “Call Before You Dig”, this national service allows home and business owners to request that utility companies mark their buried lines with flags or paint to avoid unintentional damage to lines.

These services are performed at no charge and should be requested a few business days before your dig and repeated if the dig hasn’t begun within a specified time. Time frames vary by state, so make sure you plan ahead by contacting the Call Before You Dig service in your location.

What Can the Utility Company Do in My Easement?

The utility companies have several rights when it comes to easements on your property:

They have the right to access without approval. That’s right. Utility companies do not need to let you know in advance that they will be working on your property, although some may choose to do so.

They can impose restrictions on vegetation. If a utility company needs regular access to your easement, you may not be able to plant vegetation such as tall trees or even gardens in that area. Please check with your local regulations to be sure before you plant.

They can remove obstructions or vegetation as needed. As mentioned above, you may not be able to make certain upgrades to your property such as putting up a fence or installing an in-ground pool if it obstructs access to or overruns the easement. Utilities have a right to remove obstructions in the easement as well as trim or remove vegetation.

Remember, your deed allows the utility companies access to the easement whenever they need it. This means that if you try to prevent access, they can take you to court for violating the easement and ask the judge for a ruling — called an injunction — that will prevent you from blocking access in the future.

What are My Rights as a Property Owner When It Comes to Easements?

It is the responsibility of the property owner to pay taxes on the easement — they own it. However, utility companies can use the land to install, maintain, or repair equipment, lines, or pipes.

Most utilities are very respectful of easement property and of owners and will do their utmost to keep disruption of the area to a minimum.

However, if a utility company accesses your property and willfully destroys landscaping or structures outside of the easement, you can sue for damages.

So, IS the Power Company Allowed on My Property?

The power company is allowed on the part of your property known as the utility easement for the purposes of installing, maintaining, or repairing lines or equipment.  They may also access the easement to trim overgrown vegetation that may be impeding access or presenting a hazard to overhanging power lines.