Easements

Conservation easements are voluntary restrictions that permanently limit types of allowable uses on land. They are held by entities external to the titleholder. These agreements are frequently used as a tax-planning tool. A landowner grants an easement to a public or private nonprofit entity and commits to conserving land in exchange for a tax deduction commensurate with the diminution of property value. These arrangements can offer a similar level of land security as deed restrictions, and in some cases, can approach the security of fee simple ownership. While conservation easements are more common in rural settings, urban applications exist as well. In Baltimore, Maryland, a private landowner granted a conservation easement to Neighborspace (a land trust) on the site of an existing community garden in exchange for federal tax deductions. Arrangements such as these can also reduce the management burden on the titleholder, as the recipient of the easement often provides land stewardship services as part of the exchange.

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