Easements, which grant someone else the right to use a piece of property in some way, are often a troubling issue in real estate. What didn’t bother a past owner may be quite troublesome to a new owner — and that creates conflict with the people who feel that the easement is their right.
The good news for property owners is that easements don’t necessarily last forever. There are a number of different ways you can try to remove an easement that distresses you. Here are a couple of ways to approach the issue:
A quiet title action
One of the simplest ways to remove an old easement is called a “quiet title action.” These are best pursued when the easement is recorded but unused — or when nobody seems to be sure about a property’s actual boundaries.
For example, imagine that you discover an old easement on your property that was designed to allow residents of a hillside house behind you access to the main road through your property. However, the hillside house has long been in ruins and abandoned. A quiet title action could end the easement and make it possible for you to close off the access point with a fence.
A release agreement
Sometimes, the owner of the dominant property (the one that benefits from the easement) and the owner of the servient property (the one burdened by the easement) can agree to end the easement simply.
For example, imagine that you buy a piece of property and discover that the previous owner has an easement allowing them to cross through a neighbor’s adjoining property in order to get to a local park. Your neighbor approaches you about ending the easement and you see no particular reason not to agree. A release can quickly and efficiently end the easement (and make for good relations with your neighbors).
Easements and property disputes are, unfortunately, rarely this simple to resolve. If you have an easement dispute with someone, you may need to consider several different legal strategies before you proceed with any action.