Historic Annapolis holds more than 60 preservation easements on properties throughout the Historic District of Annapolis.
This page provides basic information on how the use of easements helps to perpetuate Annapolis’s distinctive character.
What is a preservation easement? An easement is a legal tool that guarantees the long-term protection of historic properties in private ownership. It is an agreement between a property owner (the grantor) and the holder of the easement (the grantee). The agreement governs how the current owner and any future owners must treat the property.
An easement on one property benefits the owners of adjacent properties as well as the larger community by assuring that a significant property will retain its historically and architecturally important features.
Who might want an easement? An easement is of interest to an owner who has devoted considerable time and resources to restoring and maintaining a property in a manner consistent with the property's historic period and architectural style—and who wants to assure the property's continued preservation once the property passes from his or her hands to another private owner.
The Annapolis Historic District Zoning Ordinance established a Historic Preservation Commission that reviews and regulates all proposed property alterations within the district. Yet the protection offered by this ordinance could be undermined in the future by changes in local government or local zoning regulations.
An easement will survive those changes because it "runs with the deed" to the property, in perpetuity, and cannot be modified due to changes in government or regulation.
What does an easement stipulate? In conveying an easement intended to preserve the exterior facade of a structure and/or the scenic views and surroundings, a property owner surrenders his/her and future owners' rights to make unrestricted alterations to the exterior (and, possibly, the interior) of the building. The owner may make alterations, but they will be subject to review and approval by the holder of the easement.
The property owner does retain title to his or her property, together with all privileges and obligations of ownership—including the right to sell or lease the property.
Are there any tax benefits? A building owner may gain tax advantages by granting a preservation easement. The Internal Revenue Code permits an owner to donate (grant) a partial or full interest in a historic property to a tax-exempt charitable organization and receive a tax deduction for doing so.
The owner may get a deduction for granting a preservation easement if three conditions are met:
- The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, or is a contributing building within the boundaries of a historic district.
- The easement is donated to a "qualified organization" (such as Historic Annapolis) that is able to hold, monitor, and enforce the easement.
- The easement is granted in perpetuity.
EasementsTo discuss the possibility of granting an easement on your historic property, contact John Guild, at 410-990-4709 or email@example.com.
Public advocacyIn addition to holding many preservation easements, Historic Annapolis's preservation role includes providing expert review, testimony, and consultation. Learn more.