Preservation Easements

As a landowner, there are several types of legal injunctions that you will need to be familiar with in order to protect your rights. Chief among these are easements. Preservation easements are a type of preventative injunction that protects a specific piece of land against development that is considered undesirable. It also protects the land against neglect or other actions that may lead to a deterioration in its condition. A preservation easement is similar to a conservation easement in this regard, although the land it covers will usually not be specifically protected by a government body.

What Types of Changes Would a Preservation Easement Prevent?

Preservation easements are usually enacted to prevent a wide variety of alterations to the land in question. These types of unauthorized changes may include, but will not be limited to, the following:

• Changes to any buildings that may be on the land.
• Changes to any other sort of structure, such as a shed or barn, that may be on the land.
• Changes in the usage of any building or other structure that may be on the land.
• Unauthorized transfer of ownership of the land.
• Unauthorized changes in the use of the land itself.
• Unauthorized topographic changes to the land, such as mining or development for grazing by animals.

When Can the Federal Government Impose a Preservation Easement?

There are a number of situations in which the Federal government can choose to impose preservation easements. It should be noted that the intention of the government to do so must be filed as a matter of national record and must be reviewed before it is considered to be fully in force. In most cases, the purpose of a preservation easement will be to protect a specifically named structure or area that the government deems to be historic or worthy of preservation in its native state for some other reason.

Are There Specific Rules That Govern a Preservation Easement?

There are rules the govern the eligibility of a piece of land for protection under a preservation easement. The land must contain a structure that can be listed in the National Register. Alternatively, the land can be located in a National Register district. The land must further be specially certified by the Secretary of the Interior as being a structure or area of historic significance to the district.

Is It Possible to Donate a Piece of Land for a Preservation Easement?

A landowner may choose to donate a piece of land to be specially protected by the government under a preservation easement. This donation will need to include land that is significant enough to qualify for an evaluation for an admission to the National Register. Alternatively, the land in question may be situated directly adjacent to a property that has already been listed and protected by the National Register of Historic Places. This will generally be the case when the specific physical features of the area somehow complement the cultural or historic character of the land.

Does a Donation of Historic Land Qualify for a Tax Deduction?

One of the advantages that a property owner can receive for donating a piece of land that the government deems historic is a sizable tax deduction. However, in order to qualify for any deduction that may be forthcoming from the IRS, the donation of land must be made on a permanent basis. Once the preservation easement is granted, the donor of the land will be entitled to a specially calculated charitable contribution deduction. This amount will generally be tabulated as the amount of the fair market value of the land that has been donated.

All Donations of Land for a Preservation Easement Must Be Voluntary

It should be noted that, as in the case of other types of easements, no donation can be made except with the express written consent of the owner of the land. You cannot be forced to donate or surrender land that is your property. If you believe that you are being pressured or coerced to do so, you have the right to seek legal aid in a court of law.