Real Estate Terms

Dominant vs Servient Estate

Let’s talk about the Dominant and Servient Estate which have to do with easements. Understanding the difference between both estates is vital for the real estate exam.

For those of you who don’t know what an easement is – an easement is a right held by one person to use the land of another for a specific purpose.

What is the Dominant Estate?

Definition: The Dominant Estate is a parcel of real property that has an easement over another piece of property.

What is the Servient Estate?

Definition: The Servient Estate is a parcel of land that is subject to an easement.

What Does it Mean?

The best way to explain how both terms work is by an example. Take a look at the picture below.

Dominant vs Servient Estate Example

You should notice that Property B is landlocked, which means the only way to access the property is by entering another (which in our case is property A). So property B has an easement on property A. In this example, Property B is referred to as the dominant estate since it holds the easement in property A. Of course, that means property A is referred to as the servient estate.

An excellent way to remember which-is-which is whenever you hear servient estate think of that estate serving the other. It is a servient estate because it serves the other through the easement located on their property. You can also think about dominant estate dominating the other since it holds an easement over the other parties’ property.

What to Know for the Real Estate Exam

The biggest thing to remember for the real estate exam is which-is-which.

Remember, a servient estate serves the other. And a dominant estate dominates the other through holding an easement of the other property.

Want to know more about real estate vocabulary? Check out our free real estate exam flashcards and term list!

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