Having a neighbor who blocks an easement is one of the most annoying things one can ever deal with. In a hurry to rush somewhere only to find out that the easement is blocked by your neighbor can be so offending to the extent that if not properly handled may result in violent behavior. Easement allows one access to a route to their properties via someone else’s property without possessing the route. Easements also allows one access to a facility like fishing lake through two or more pieces of properties. Property owners should know the rights and privileges that certain people have over these easements despite the fact that they pass through or are part of their properties.
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What The Law Says About Blocking Of Easements
There are various laws that govern easements laying out foundation for lawful and unlawful blocking of an easement by your neighbor. These laws may slightly differ from state to state but the framework remains the same. California law states that an express easement is for right of way purposes that are expressly granted by the owner of the property and these type of easements are typically written into the property deeds. Express easements usually remain in existence despite property ownership change and there must be specific reason stated already for which the easement rights will be invoked. Examples include access to public facilities like government Utilities Company or municipality companies to their employees. The owner of the property is not allowed to plant, build or create an obstruction to that easement.
Prescriptive easement grants rights of access on the basis that the easement had been used for at least five years in the past without express permission. An example is when school children cut through parking lot to cut their walk to school. When ownership of the parking lot changes the law does not allow new owner to stop them from using the easement. It will be declared a prescriptive easement on the basis of previous use. There are many easements in place and one need to check with their local laws but generally the law prohibits land owners including your neighbor from blocking these easements.
Unlawful Blocking Of An Easement
As mentioned previously blocking of an easement by your neighbor is a violation of other people’s rights and therefore let us look at some of the things that constitutes unlawful blocking of an easement by your neighbor or anyone else.
- Any activity that interferes with other person’s right to use and enjoy the easement as enshrined under different statutory provisions is unlawful blocking of an easement.
- This include activities like planting, digging trenches, laying of pipes and enclosing of the easement in a way that interferes with other person’s use of that easement.
Lawful Blocking Of An Easement
There are circumstances where blocking of an easement by a neighbor or anyone else can be deemed lawful. Blocking of an easement to stop illegal activities like fishing on private dams and access to restricted facilities. It is however recommended to contact the police in such cases.
What To Do When Your Neighbor Blocks An Easement
Cases of conflicts involving neighbors blocking of an easement are not something unusual. For various reasons property owners may block these easements leading to the question of what one is supposed to do in such cases. Below are the steps one can take to address the issue of someone blocking an easement. Importantly you need to have the rights to use the easement under any of the provisions of the law to do the procedure below.
- The first thing to do when your legal right to use an easement is violated by blocking of the easement is talking to the person about your grievance. Though offended try to be calm and reason with the person letting him know that he is infringing on your rights.
- If the person agrees then happy days for you but if he refuses you may try the legal route.
- You may need to consult a legal expert to assist you with the legal provisions to file your case with the courts.
- You may need to go through your deeds since your rights are written down and note your rights to use the easement as per the deeds.
- You can also do the same for any other type of easement you want rights granted. Valid reasons and evidence to prove that the easement has been in use for a period as required by the laws shall be needed where written deeds are not available.
- Make sure to write down all the ways in which your rights are violated and provide evidence to that.
- Lodge a complaint through the courts which should be able to assist you and give you a protection order. If not sure you may need the services of an attorney.
How To Terminate Easements
The next question one may be asking is how then one terminates an easement. For instance you are a new owner to a property and you are not comfortable having someone pass through your property to access their property or a public facility. Here are some of the ways one can be able to terminate an easement.
- Wait for the easement to expire. For easements that have a termination clause it may be a good idea to patiently wait for the easement to expire and you are done. This applies only to easements with a fixed duration and therefore one has to go through his deeds to ascertain whether he or she qualifies for this option.
- Terminate an easement through release. This occurs when the beneficiary or user of the easement known as the dominant estate releases his easement rights to the servient estate who owns property where easement is located. This is done through a written agreement between the two parties. The problem is that this requires consent of the beneficiary otherwise it will be impossible to terminate.
- The other method is through merger of your properties to come under one ownership. This implies one selling his property to the other to become one property. The downside of this is that it requires one to be willing to buy the other’s property while the other is willing to sell his property but once done this will not create any problems in the future.
- In some cases the easement may terminate when the necessity for the easement end. This is the case for necessity easements and so one will just wait for the need for the easement to end.
Blocking of an easement by your neighbor can cause great inconveniences and as such it should be done within the confines of the law and with proper communication.