Understanding easements in California

In California, people, businesses, and local governments, sometimes, seek easements to gain the right to access and use property that they do not own. When an easement is granted, it gives a non-owner a nonpossessory interest in someone else’s land. When people are granted easements, the easements do not give them the right to exclude other people from the land or to possess it. However, a property owner who grants an easement may exclude others from the land other than the holder of the easement and may continue to use it.

How easements are created

Easements may be created by contracts, wills or transfers in deeds. Easements require the same formalities as the transfers of other interests in land. In general, creating an easement will require a formal, written document, signatures and proper delivery. In limited circumstances, courts may create easements. These types of easements are called easements of necessity and may be ordered in cases in which someone’s property is landlocked by others. Easements may also be created by courts when they can be implied by the circumstances. For example, if someone has used the property in question for years to gain access to another property, a court may grant an easement.

Rights under an easement

When someone is granted an easement, he or she will have the right to use that portion of the property to the extent granted by the easement. However, people who are granted easements may not use them in such a way that an undue burden is created. If an easement holder’s use of the easement is unreasonable, the landowner can avail himself or herself of several potential remedies.

Landowners may ask the court for injunctions to restrain the easement holders to an appropriate use of the easements. They might also be able to recover damages for uses that unduly burden the estate and cause damage to it. In some cases, the landowners may be able to seek the termination of the easements. Landowners who are having trouble with easement holders may benefit from consulting with an experienced real estate law attorney. Companies and local governments that need to secure easements might also want to consult with a real estate attorney.