Buying April 30, 2022

Understanding Easements in Hawaii

When purchasing a property in Hawaii, buyers will likely come across some form of easement when reviewing the title report. An easement is defined as a right to cross or otherwise use someone else’s land for a specified purpose. The most common types of easements are for utility, view, and access.

It is important to understand easements in Hawaii as this may affect the buyer’s decision to continue with purchasing the property. For example, if the title report reveals that a neighboring property has rights to use the subject property’s driveway, then the buyer should inquire about the ramifications of such easement rights as a part of their due diligence. In this situation, the buyer should determine 1) if there are any limitations, 2) if the easement is exclusive or non-exclusive, and 3) if the neighbor shares any responsibility for the maintenance, repair, and liability of the driveway.

For properties that are on a private roadway, the title company must determine and disclose in their report if the property has a legal right of access over the road. With this information, the buyer should determine if the right of access includes any liability and/or obligation to keep the road in good repair as well as any fees they should be aware of that come with this responsibility.

For beachfront properties, there may be a public or private beach access easement. If it is public access, a buyer should expect a fair amount of use at all hours. If it is private access, a buyer should determine how many properties have the right to use the access easement.

To conclude, here are a few important questions buyers should ask if the subject property has easements:

  • What rights are included and who has the rights?
  • Is there a maintenance agreement that addresses maintenance, repair, and liability?
  • Will maintenance funds be collected and what are the consequences if funds are not paid?
  • Do the rights run with the land?