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For the sake of clarifying the question, I'll offer this hypothetical.

Assume I had a neighbor down the street and I wanted to run a cable between our homes. There is an existing utility easement running along the street.

Is it possible to take advantage of that easement to bridge across other people's properties like the phone,electric and cable companies do? Who would you even talk to if you wanted to find out?

Update for clarification per the comments: I am in the United States, in a rural area outside of Austin Texas.

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It might be worth clarifying the location this refers to as the answers will vary depending on location. –  Ian Turner Jul 16 '11 at 17:26
    
@JohnFx, "Who would you even talk to if you wanted to find out?" Exact (country specific) terminology will be dependent upon your location in the world, but this should at least point you in the right direction - Your local Deeds/Land Registration office will hold such documents. –  Mike Perry Jul 16 '11 at 21:44
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2 Answers 2

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As longneck said, the utility easement is for use by the utility companies only, and you would be unlikely to get regulatory blessing from the TUC (Texas Utility Commission) or local service providers.

You MAY be able to convince your neighbors to allow a new easement. However, this may also be unlikely, for a couple of reasons:

  • Easements are generally tolerated by the homeowner in order to receive some basic necessity; for instance, the easement for the sidewalk in the neighborhood, or streetlights, or for utilities (electric, gas, telephone/FiOS). A cable between your house and your neighbor's provides little or no benefit to those in between.

  • Easements, once granted, are not easy to change, and as such are for relatively permanent fixtures. Your cable between your house and your neighbor's house is necessary only for as long as the two of you are each in those houses, which is on average a far shorter time span (5-7 years) than the existence of most utility lines. Very few utilities are ever removed (we still cover the nation in POTS lines even though most houses have fiber optic service of some type).

  • Even if you get the easement, there are other rules. Most of them have to do with the aesthetics of the neighborhood and limiting damage to the people along the easement in those respects. Burying the cable will require tearing up every lawn along the run; the homeowners will expect those lawns to be restored when the work is done. Check your homeowner's association rules (you may not have DUES, or a formal board, but virtually every suburban neighborhood has some form of internal governance that was laid down by the developer and to which every homeowner, original or new, must agree.

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Generally, no. The utility easements are for use by utility companies, not individual homeowners. If you tried to ask for official blessing, you wouldn't get it as you are not a recognized utility.

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You might get permission, if you were willing to pay (a presumably large sum) to "rent" the line. –  Tester101 Jul 18 '11 at 1:29
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