Understanding easements in real estate

On Behalf of | Mar 27, 2024 | Firm News |

Easements are a critical but sometimes overlooked component of real estate transactions. With California’s diverse landscapes and booming real estate market, property owners, buyers and developers must understand the legalities surrounding easements.

This blog will discuss the different types of easements and their significance in real estate transactions.

What is an easement?

An easement is a legal right to use another person’s land for a limited purpose. There are many types of easements in California, such as:

Express easements

Express easements are written agreements that may be recorded in property deeds or separate documents. They clearly define the location, scope and terms of use and are legally binding for all current and future owners of the involved properties.

Implied easements

These are not written contracts but rather circumstances suggesting that both parties intended an easement. Implied easements usually come into play where the continued use of a portion of the property (such as access roads) is necessary.

Easement of necessity

This type of easement occurs when a property is landlocked, and access to a public road is only possible by crossing another person’s land. 

Prescriptive easements

Similar to adverse possession, prescriptive easements may be claimed by someone who has used a portion of another’s property openly, continuously, and without permission for at least five years. However, unlike adverse possession, prescriptive easements pertain only to usage rights.

Easements can significantly affect how a property is used and its market value. In California, easement disputes are not uncommon and can arise from misunderstandings and conflicts about the easement’s scope, location, or the impact it has on real estate. Property owners facing easement issues should work with someone to explore their options, whether negotiating easement terms, seeking modifications, or, if necessary, pursuing termination of the easement.