Public Works

What’s an Easement and Why Should You Care?

Easements are official agreements between property owners and another party. Easements establish and recognize the third party's right to access or use a part of the owner's property for a specific purpose. A public easement grants limited usage rights to a city for a public purpose, like serving your home and neighborhood with valuable services or facilities. The property owner continues to own the land covered under the easement.

It is important to know whether your property has any easements.
Easements "run with the land." This means the agreement automatically transfers to the next property owner when the land is sold — even if it is not mentioned in the transfer document. If a previous owner of your property granted an easement, you are bound by the easement.

There are certain things you cannot do in the easement to ensure the services and facilities provided in the easement function properly. Additionally, some easements require property owners perform a minimum amount of maintenance over the easement. Things like bridges, playground equipment, pools, fences, retaining walls, sheds, fill, and other structures or landscaping can interfere with an easement's function. These items require a request to review the encroachment. The City regularly inspects easements. If such items are encroaching an easement without a permit, the property owner will be required to remove the items at their own expense.


Locate Public Easements


Individual parcels are outlined in yellow.
Easements are marked by dashed yellow lines.
Click on an easement to learn more.

Questions? Contact the Linn County Recorder’s Office.
Website & Hours • 319-892-5420recorder@linncountyiowa.gov


More About Easements

There are many types of easements, but the most common are:

  • Public Utility: These grant rights to the city for a public utility for the purpose of utility access, maintenance, and installation.
  • Public Storm, Water or Sanitary: These grant rights to the city for a public utility providing storm, water or sanitary for the purpose of access, maintenance, and installation.
  • Public Drainage: These grant rights to the city for the purpose of maintaining and protecting the drainage system from obstructions that would impede flow and storm water runoff management.
  • Private Easements: These grant rights to the specific utility provider for the purpose of access, maintenance and installation.
  • Private Drainage Easements: These grant rights to developers for the purpose of maintaining and protecting the drainage way system from obstructions that would impede water flow and storm water runoff management. 

The City has jurisdiction over most public easements. Depending on the type of easement, structures like retaining walls or fences are typically not permitted on public easements. If you are considering building a structure on your property, contact the City’s Building Services department to apply for all necessary permits and agreements. Submitting an application does not guarantee approval.

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