Considerations with a conservation easement

| Jun 10, 2021 | Firm News

Georgia residents have access to miles of beautiful preserved natural land such as Chattahoochee Natural Forest. Homes in Stephens County and surrounding areas may have conservation easements to ensure owners will continue to protect these lands.

Review these considerations before purchasing a Georgia property that is subject to a conservation easement.

Terms of a conservation easement

Generally, the easement agreement allows private ownership and use of protected land. However, a public agency retains the right to oversee the land. An easement may apply to an entire parcel of land or just to a portion of the land, but usually lasts forever and changes hands with the property. Owners usually get a tax benefit in exchange for the conservation easement.

Common limitations

Understanding the limitations that often come with an easement should inform a buyer’s decision about purchasing this type of property. A conservation easement may prohibit the land owner from:

  • Developing the land
  • Subdividing and reselling portions of the land
  • Introducing certain types of animal or plant life
  • Adding a permanent structure such as a fence, barn or shed
  • Changing the habitat

Homeowners may struggle to sell plots with conservation easements in the future for these reasons. Conversely, some people appreciate the rare opportunity to enjoy unique land features, flora and fauna from their own homes and do not mind the prohibitions that come with this type of legal agreement.

Approximately 50 different Georgia government agencies have the authority to enter land easements. The agency can sue the land owner if he or she breaches the terms of the easement contract.

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