What is an easement?

An easement provides the right to use an owner's property for a particular purpose. A NBU utility easement allows NBU the right to use an owner's property for specific purposes such as to construct, repair, maintain, operate, and manage utility facilities. Sometimes other utility providers, such as cable and telephone companies, also have the right to use the same utility easement.

Who owns the NBU utility easement?

The property owner owns the land upon which the easement is located. However, NBU has the right of way to enter upon that land for specified utility purposes.

How is an NBU utility easement created?

Utility easements are created when a subdivision of land is approved by the city or county. Utility easements may also be created by a separate agreement between the owner of the property and NBU. Easements are generally located along streets, lot lines, or between two lots when created by a subdivision of land.

How do I know if there are any easements on my property?

Easements are usually recorded in the real property records of the county in which the land is located. The existence of a recorded easement should have been identified by the title company handling the purchase of your property. You may presume there is an easement over a portion of your property if you see utility lines on your property. Contact NBU at 830-608-8991 or 8993 for information about NBU easements. 

Why is it important to keep NBU utility easements clear?

NBU utility easements must be kept clear so that NBU can efficiently operate the utility systems under its control. For example, there may be times when NBU must replace a pole or water line or must restore electric service, and unobstructed access to the utility facilities must be available at all times to avoid delay or conditions which may endanger NBU personnel.

How does an NBU utility easement affect what I can do with my property?

A utility easement affects your ability to use that portion of your land in a variety of ways. For example, you may be restricted in what you can build on the easement, whether trees or other vegetation can be planted in the easement and how trees and other vegetation must be maintained on the easement. 

What are my responsibilities regarding NBU utility easements?

At all times, a property owner must provide continuous, unobstructed access to easements held by NBU. You must get written permission from NBU to place or construct improvements on the easement. You should determine whether there are utility lines buried in the easement.

How can I locate buried utilities if I plan to dig on my property?

For your safety, before you dig anywhere on your property, call 1-800-344-8377 (1-800-DIG-TESS). If you plan to dig more than 16 inches in depth with mechanical equipment, Texas law requires that you give utility providers notice prior to excavation by notifying DIG-TESS at least two (2) working days, but not more than fourteen (14) days prior to any excavation. Even if you plan to dig by hand, NBU encourages you to contact DIG-TESS and request an "electric locate" on your property. The DIG-TESS organization will notify NBU, and a utility crew will be sent to your property to mark and color code any buried lines. After calling DIG-TESS, you must also notify NBU for water/sewer locates at 830-608-8816.

What if I build a structure on an existing NBU utility easement?

NBU must approve, in writing, any construction on its easements. The failure to obtain written approval may result in the structure being removed at the property owner's expense. Any damage to an unapproved structure is at the owner's risk.

What type of construction is permitted in an NBU utility easement?

A property owner or resident may not place or construct any structure or improvement on an NBU easement except for driveways, cart paths, fences (provided sixteen (16) foot gates are installed), parking lots, and streets, and then, only if NBU has approved such construction. NBU requires certain height restrictions and vertical clearances to high voltage lines to be maintained at all times.

What is not permitted in NBU utility easements?

NBU does not permit any structure or improvement that it has not specifically approved in writing to be constructed on any of its easements. Some examples of structures not allowed include: sheds, patios, swimming pools, ponds, spas, signs, mast-type equipment, abandoned vehicles, mobile homes, buildings of any type, wells, and decorative landscaping.

Do building permits have information about easements?

No. It is the property owner's responsibility to determine if there are any easements and/or restrictions on the use of his or her property. Approval of a building permit does not ensure that the proposed work does not violate an easement unless expressly noted on the permit. NBU can provide general NBU easement information to a property owner at no cost. However, should more assurance be necessary, NBU can have the area surveyed at the expense of the property owner.

What is NBU's responsibility with respect to its easements?

NBU must comply with the terms of any easement or franchise agreement to which it is a party, the ordinances of the City of New Braunfels, and applicable state law when it conducts work on its utility easements. Generally, NBU's rights to use the area covered by the easement are superior to the property owner's rights. However, NBU tries to minimize any damage or inconvenience to property owners when reasonable and practical.