We are picking up the discussion about easements from our Sept. 21 post. An easement is one person’s protected right to use another person’s real property. There are a number of different ways to establish an easement, and there are a number of different types of easement. When we left off, we were talking about an easement created by grant: Property owners along a stretch of road granted the city the right to build a bike path that partially encroached on each property.
The agreement between the property owners and the city specifically grants the easement for the bike path. If the project is canceled, the city will no longer need the easement, and the full use of the property goes back to the owners. The city cannot use that strip of land for any other purpose, if the agreement was carefully crafted.
One way to terminate an easement, then, is to eliminate the purpose of the easement. A property owner may also grant an easement for a specified period of time or until a future event. Again, the agreement will likely lay this all out.
An example: A property owner sells part of his land to a family that plans to build a house. There isn’t enough room on that parcel to park all of the builder’s heavy machinery. The property owner agrees to let the new owner use part of his land to park the trucks, but he stipulates that the easement will expire as soon as construction on the new house is complete.
Or, a property owner may grant a nearby summer camp access to the pond on his property. He plans to retire in five years, though, and doesn’t want to deal with the noise. The easement will terminate in five years.
This is all pretty standard stuff, though. While there may be a dispute over whether construction is actually complete, or whether the five years included the year the property owner was out of the country or in prison, a carefully drafted agreement may help to avoid the conflict. There is another way to terminate an easement that may be a little more complicated, though.
We’ll finish this up in our next post.
Source: Tiffany Real Property 3d, Ch. 14, Part IV Extinction of Easements, September 2015, via WestlawNext