3 Land Use Issues That May Require An Attorney's Advice

When thinking about real estate attorney services, it's easy to focus on the transactional side of the equation. That's a big part of the job of a real estate attorney, but they also can address a wide range of issues related to land use and property rights. Let's explore three such problems you may want to retain counsel to deal with.


Regularly crossing or using someone else's property generally requires some form of permission. This permission usually comes in the form of an easement, a document normally provided in a contract or will.

Easements can be affirmative or negative. An affirmative easement gives you the right to do something, such as drive your vehicles across the property. A negative easement prevents the other party from doing something, such as putting up a building that would block a scenic view. It's always wise to deploy tightly written easements, and a real estate attorney can help you hammer out the terms.


Municipalities, counties, and townships frequently place limits on how certain kinds of properties can be utilized by imposing a system of use zones. Common types of zones include residential commercial, industrial, historic, and mixed-use zones. For example, someone in a residential zone can't just throw up a commercial office structure.

Variances can be sought from zoning boards. A variance will allow you to utilize a property outside its normal classification. It's not uncommon for something like providing a variance to put in a convenience store and gas station in a residential area to provide for local needs, for example.

Eminent Domain

One of the less popular areas of American law is what's known as the "takings clause." This is a part of the U.S. Constitution that allows governments to take properties for necessary uses. In exchange for the taking, the government usually compensates the property owner for at least the prevailing market value of the location.

Eminent domain takings have expanded dramatically over the last century. For example, a municipality can sometimes take a property it believes is tied to ongoing criminal activities. Extreme cases include situations where towns can assert that getting rid of blighted properties will improve the municipal tax base, sometimes selling locations to developers.

Whether you're looking to assert a claim to property or defend against an eminent domain seizure, expect to require real estate attorney services. Such cases often take years or even decades to resolve. To learn more information, reach out to a company such as Souders Law Group.