How Are Easements Terminated?

Most of the time, courts assume that easements are intended to last “in perpetuity,” (which is a fancy way of saying “forever”) unless there is some express term in a real estate contract or other agreement indicating that an easement is meant to be terminated when a specific timeline runs out and/or certain conditions are met. With that said, there are ways to terminate an easement, even if a contract does not expressly provide for termination on a specific date or for termination subject to expressly articulated conditions. Similarly, permanent easements may be terminated under specific circumstances as well.

Terminating an Easement

Depending on the type of easement in question, certain easements may be terminated through the sale of the servient estate (land affected by the easement, not owned by the easement holder). Similarly, if the owner of the servient estate or the estate holder releases their right to the easement, in writing, an easement may be terminated in a fairly straightforward manner. However, there are some easements that are transferred automatically, despite the sale of the servient estate and some easements that may not be terminated upon release. This is one of the reasons why it is so important for all involved to speak with an attorney, like a real estate lawyer in Sacramento, CA from Kassouni Law, before making assumptions about whether a specific easement can/may/will be terminated upon sale of the servient estate and/or express written release of an easement interest.

Additionally, abandonment of the easement may terminate an easement holder’s interest in the easement itself. Abandonment is not the same as failure to utilize the easement for a period of time. To clarify what abandonment may look like in your situation, you’ll want to speak with an attorney.

Finally, condemnation of an easement or a significant change in circumstances may terminate an easement interest. For example, if an easement specifies that the general public may use a strip of land to access a public beach on foot or by bicycle and a highway is built through that pathway, the easement interest to access the beach on foot will be terminated through that radical change in circumstances.

Legal Assistance Is Available

Whether you’re hoping to terminate an easement or you need to defend against having an existing easement terminated, it’s important to seek experienced legal counsel before committing to a plan of action. This area of the law is complex and is often made more complex by the unique circumstances affecting any particular dispute. By speaking with an experienced attorney, you’ll better ensure that you fully understand your options and that your decisions are truly informed. Property rights are generally treated with great respect under U.S. law for a reason. Don’t allow your rights to be infringed upon or compromised without first speaking with an experienced real estate attorney about your options under the law.