What Are Exclusive Easements in CA?
An easement is defined as a tool within the legal system that grants someone other than the landowner to use a portion of land. An easement imposes limitations on how a person can use the area rather than giving them full control. With an easement, the property owner retains the right to use their land, as long as it does not conflict with the rights of the easement holder.’
There are different types of easements. An exclusive easement limits the property owner’s ability to utilize the land, and in some cases completely prohibits the owner’s use of the land. Though they are not common, it is still important to understand the limitations dictated by exclusive easements.
An easement may be given in a deed, usually for a fee. The easement’s language must explicitly express the property’s exclusive use or be constructed in such a way that exclusivity may be surmised. For example, if a property owner allows an easement for a reservoir to be partially built on their land, this may be regarded as the property owner no longer being able to utilize that portion of the land since it would contaminate the water thus interfering with its use. The courts will likely rule that an easement is non-exclusive if singular use cannot be interpreted in the language, requiring the easement holder to share the land.
There are cases in which the land owner does not have to explicitly grant an easement. An easement may be suggested as a result of the way a party uses the area of the land. If a party uses a part of an area exclusively for a stretch of time without objection from the owner, the party can contend that they have the right to continue to use the area exclusively. This is somewhat similar to adverse possession, or squatters rights, though an easement does not grant ownership rights to the land.
Easements may be a necessity to whom they are granted. For example, a party may need to enter a property to gain access to a neighboring and otherwise inaccessible property. If a property is sold, the buyer will not necessarily maintain an exclusive easement attached to the property. Exclusive easements only apply to the original grantee.
When an exclusive easement is granted, the text should accurately represent the real estate rights of both parties involved. When two parties agree to an exclusive easement, it’s vital that the text of the easement accurately reflects the agreement and expresses each party’s real estate rights. An easement should always be drafted or reviewed by a lawyer who has experience in property and real estate. And if a disagreement occurs over an existing easement, you should seek the advice of a lawyer who understands California real estate laws.