Can A Property Owner Block An Easement?

Can A Property Owner Block An Easement?

Can A Property Owner Block An Easement?

In general, a property owner cannot block an easement that has already been established in the property’s deed. An easement is a right granted to an entity to use a piece of property belonging to a separate individual or entity for a specific purpose

This right is often written into the property deed and continues when the property changes hands.

Easements can take several forms, including easements for utilities, private easements, necessity for easements, and prescriptive easements (acquired through someone’s use of the property).

 Some express easements may even prevent the owner from doing something with the land rather than giving rights for someone else to use it.

If a property owner tries to block an easement, it is advisable to remain calm and seek legal advice. A lawyer or other legal consultant can advise on the appropriate steps to take.

. If the property owner refuses to remove the easement blockage, the case may have to be taken to court

In most cases, a property owner cannot legally block an existing easement on their land if it was granted in a deed or through prescription (long time use). Easements are property rights that “run with the land” – meaning they stay in effect when the property ownership changes.

If a property owner tries to prevent the easement holder from using their right of access, the easement holder can take legal action. They may file a lawsuit for an injunction to remove the obstruction or sue for damages. Blocking an easement is considered interference with the easement holder’s property rights.

There are a few ways that an easement can potentially be terminated, but it is rarely simple or straightforward:

  • The easement holder can voluntarily give up the easement through a written release, if they no longer need the access.
  • The servient estate owner (burdened by easement) may be able to prove abandonment if the easement hasn’t been used for a very long time (e.g. 15+ years). However, mere non-use alone does not constitute abandonment.
  • The easement can be extinguished through an action known as merger – when the dominant and servient estates come under common ownership. But it requires the estates to remain unified.
  • A court may terminate the easement if the purpose for which it was created becomes impossible (e.g. if a road gets washed out). But easements rarely expire this way.
  • In rare cases, prescriptive easements obtained through adverse possession may expire after the statutory period runs out with non-use.

Overall, property owners have very limited recourse for terminating an unwanted easement across their land.

The easiest method is to negotiate with the easement holder to voluntarily give it up in exchange for reasonable compensation. But the property owner cannot simply block access without facing the risk of a lawsuit.

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