Easements

 

General Questions

Easement Encroachment Questions

Easement Abandonment Questions

Helpful Links

Answers

What is an easement?
An easement provides the right to use an owner's property for a particular purpose. A NBU utility easement allows New Braunfels Utilities 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 an NBU easement?
The property owner owns the land upon which the easement is located. However, New Braunfels Utilities and their agents have the right of way to enter upon that land for specified utility purposes.
 
How is an NBU easement created?
Utility easements are created when a subdivision of land is approved by the city or county. . Such easements are generally located along streets, lot lines, or between two lots when created by a subdivision of land. Utility easements may also be created by a separate agreement between the owner of the property and New Braunfels Utilities. These easements will often follow a particular utility line or facility, or they may encompass an area where future extension of utilities is likely.
 
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. In addition, most platted properties, specifically more modern plats, will have easements on each lot, you can click the following link to find if your property is platted and if so where and what kind is easement is effect is by following this link: https://cceo.org/html5viewer/?viewer=plats.
 
Why is it important to keep NBU easements clear?
NBU utility easements must be kept clear so that New Braunfels Utilities can efficiently operate the utility systems under its control. For example, there may be times when New Braunfels Utilities 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 New Braunfels Utilities 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 New Braunfels Utilities. You must get written permission from NBU to place or construct improvements on the easement. It is also typically the property owner’s responsibility to maintain the land encompassed by a utility 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, New Braunfels Utilities encourages you to contact DIG-TESS and request an "electric locate" on your property. The DIG-TESS organization will notify New Braunfels Utilities, and a utility crew will be sent to your property to mark and color code any buried lines.
 
What is NBU's responsibility with respect to its easements?
New Braunfels Utilities 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, New Braunfels Utilities' rights to use the area covered by the easement are superior to the property owner's rights. However, New Braunfels Utilities tries to minimize any damage or inconvenience to property owners when reasonable and practical.
 
What are NBU’s prescriptive rights?
Prescriptive Rights give New Braunfels Utilities the right to access, maintenance, and repair our infrastructure if we have had accessed and maintenance the existing infrastructure without compliant, claims, or written permission for at least ten years. In addition, the use of the land must be adverse to the owner of the land, open, notorious, exclusive, in the same place within definite lines, and continuous and uninterrupted. For more information about Prescriptive Rights please click the following link and scroll to page 7: https://assets.recenter.tamu.edu/documents/articles/422.pdf.
 
What is an easement encroachment?
You may be encroaching on an easement if you are proposing to build any type of site improvement or structure within an easement or in such a manner that it impairs New Braunfels Utilities’ ability to access the easement or the utility facilities (see “What is not allowed in NBU Easements” below). For example, the changing of surface grade within an easement, particularly if grade is being removed, is also an encroachment to a utility easement. Please submit a question to the NBU Easements & ROW department prior to considering any construction project which could encroach a utility easement.
 
What if I build a structure on an existing NBU utility easement?
New Braunfels Utilities must approve, in writing, any construction on its easements – in the form of an easement encroachment review and application (see “What is an easement encroachment?” above). 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 allowed 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. New Braunfels Utilities requires certain height restrictions and vertical clearances to high voltage lines to be maintained at all times.
 
What is not allowed in NBU utility easements?
New Braunfels Utilities 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. There are also restrictions with respect to adding or removing surface grade within a utility easement.
 
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. New Braunfels Utilities can provide general easement information to a property owner at no cost. However, should more assurance be necessary, New Braunfels Utilities can have the area surveyed at the expense of the property owner.
 
What is an easement abandonment?
An easement abandonment occurs when a holder of an easement elects to relinquish the easement rights for one reason or another via a formal recorded instrument. Outside requests for New Braunfels Utilities to abandon a utility easement require an application and review process similar to that of easement encroachments. A property owner may consider applying for an easement to be abandoned if the easement was created by plat and conflicts with a planned lot combination (see “What is a lot combination?” below), if there is no existing or planned infrastructure within the easement, or if the property owner wishes to coordinate with New Braunfels Utilities for the removal or relocation of the utilities within the easement.
 
What is a lot combination?
Lot Combinations typically come up when a property owner purchases/owns two adjacent properties and wishes to combine the lots into one lot. The corresponding City or County coordinating the request requires NBU to review the lot combination to make sure there are not any easement conflicts. Sometimes this will require a formal easement abandonment process; this is required if the original plat created easements along the common lots lines which would therefore be in the middle of the combined lot. If easement abandonment is not required and NBU has no other reason to object to the combination, it will result in a No Objection Notice, signed and notarized by the Easements Department at New Braunfels Utilities. However, some approvals do come with stipulations such as requiring that public utility easements remain as platted, an aggregation fee may apply if the electric service becomes oversized, or more.

 

 

Contact Us With Your Easement Questions at easement@nbutexas.com.