Billboard Easements and the Power of Visibility


Billboards are a powerful form of advertising, but they are ineffective if they cannot be seen. We’ve previously explored the “10 Essentials in a Billboard Easement Agreement.” We’ve told you a billboard easement grants the billboard owner perpetual use of a portion of the property to  protect the sign’s visibility from the roadway. Now let’s take a deeper dive into the visibility easement.

Billboard Visibility

“Build it and they will come.” Build a billboard and the advertisers will come–as will the viewing public. But it doesn’t take much to bring it all crashing down when the urban landscape is in constant flux. You can’t stop progress or development, but exercising good due diligence, researching zoning, height allowances, set backs, and anticipating nearby development is all part of assessing risks and protecting your investment in a billboard. Only rarely can you prevent changed conditions that impact your billboard from outside of the property on which it is placed, but in a lease or easement you very much have the opportunity to control what happens on the property, protect the billboard’s visibility, eliminate obstructions, and secure a visibility triangle for optimal value. A forward-looking perspective and professional legal guidance will help you weigh risks and better protect you from future losses.

Billboard Easement Protections

When an easement is granted there are a host of terms and conditions that should be laid out clearly describing the rights, responsibilities, and commitments of the respective parties. A billboard easement must include a visibility easement that protects the view corridors and visibility triangle in and over the property, including the airspace. Preserving an unobstructed view across the property to the target vehicular traffic is of paramount importance. Trees and other landscaping, buildings, on-premises signs, storage, and equipment that could be placed, grown, or developed in the way of the billboard’s view should all be prohibited and appropriate remedies should be provided when a violation occurs.

It’s Not Just You That Needs to Understand the Easement

Easements, like many contracts, can be assigned, passed down, and transferred with the land. Successor landowners, grantors, and grantees will be subject to the same rights and obligations as their predecessors. Parties that step into the shoes of another don’t generally have the knowledge, understanding, or intuition of the original parties. Heirs, assignees, and bona fide purchasers may not share the same understanding as the original parties who negotiate an easement, lease, or sale contract. Drafting an easement correctly and clearly from the beginning, including with particularity the rights and obligations of the grantee and the grantor, is likely to be as important in 10 or 20 years as it was when it was first documented. It’s worth saying again: a forward-looking perspective and professional legal guidance can help you get it right–the first time. Make sure that your easement imparts the bundle of rights to successfully operate your billboard and realize the greatest value in your assets. 

Visibility Is a Key to Success

Build it and they will come. Protect it and they will keep coming. Your display’s visibility is essential to draw advertisers and their target audience.The greater the visibility, the greater the value. Your success depends on it.

Whether you are a property owner, lessor, lessee, billboard operator, builder, or broker with interests in out-of-home advertising, seeking legal counsel is imperative to safeguard your property, rights, and investments. At Hamlin | Cody, our experienced attorneys possess decades of industry expertise and can adapt to your unique circumstances. Contact us to schedule a Get Acquainted Call–we’re here to assist you. 

To learn more about the importance of billboard easements, read Marnie’s latest feature in the Billboard Insider!