Sometimes owners of adjoining properties get along just fine. Other times disputes arise that need to be sorted out in court or through legal negotiations. Easements are a common source of neighborly discontent. These legal rights can be a blessing or a curse depending on whether your property is benefitted or burdened by the easement.
What Is An Easement?
The California Civil Code defines “easement” in section 887.010 as, “a burden or servitude upon land, whether or not attached to other land as an incident or appurtenance, that allows the holder of the burden or servitude to do acts upon the land.” In other words, an easement can encumber your piece of property by allowing an adjoining property owner to do certain things on your land such as cross your land to reach a public road.
Common Issues Regarding Easements
In California, the person who owns the easement must maintain it. Problems arise when the easement holder uses the easement but doesn’t maintain it. This situation can lead to animosity and eventually legal action. Other times, disagreements may arise over the size of the easement or the scope of its use. Sometimes neighbors just don’t get along and they use the easement as a means to make the other neighbor’s life miserable.
Easements are transferrable upon sale of the “servant property” which is burdened by the terms of the easement. If a new buyer has notice of the easement by deed, public records, or through a reasonable inspection, that buyer accepts the property subject to the easement, whether they like it or not. If this is a problem, the buyer must bring an action to quiet title to try to avoid the easement.
If the two landowners have entered into a written express easement and the owner who granted the easement wants to end it, he or she must give notice to the other party. Legal issues can arise if the easement user doesn’t want to give up the easement.
If the easement hasn’t been used for a certain amount of time, the owner of the property encumbered by the easement can claim that the easement has been abandoned and seek to remove the easement from the record title of the land. This action must be brought in the superior court of the county where the subject land is located.
If someone objects to the action to consider an easement abandoned, they can file a notice of intent to preserve the easement before a final judgment is made about the status of the easement. Once a judgment has been entered granting the abandonment, all property covered by the former easement is conveyed back to the property owner of the servant parcel.
How To End An Easement
Attorneys Noreen Evans and Deirdre Kingsbury understand that property disputes can arise and damage neighbor relationships. If you have an easement dispute, they can explain your options and help you settle your case, if possible, to preserve harmony. They can also vigorously advocate your position, if necessary to protect your rights. At Evans Kingsbury LLP we are trial lawyers with decades of trial and negotiation experience. Call us today at (707) 596-6090 or fill out our easy contact form to discuss your case.