An easement gives one person or organization the right to use another's land, but not possess the land. An easement on your land may be granted to your neighbor if he can only access his land by crossing yours. Easements are also frequently given to public utility companies to run pipes or electrical wires. Terminating property easements can be tricky, so the best way to protect your land is to prevent the easement.
Identify the Type of Land Easement
Figure out what type of land easement you're dealing with. There are three types of easements: easement appurtenant, easement by reservation and easements in gross.
An easement appurtenant is an easement involving adjacent pieces of land. An easement by reservation refers to easements that were reserved during a prior land scale or other conveyance. An easement in gross is a catch-all category for other easements.
Determine Whether There Are Grounds for the Easement
Determine whether the proposed easement is affirmative, meaning the owner of the property easement has the right to do something on your land, or the easement is negative, meaning the easement prevents you from doing something on your land. Affirmative easements can sometimes be terminated or blocked. Negative easements, however, usually cannot be terminated or blocked.
All existing easements must be filed with the county clerks office or the title office. A simple title search for a track of land will tell you if any easements exists. Additionally, easements may or may not be noted on the actual deed to your property. If you are unsure what type of easement exists based on these definitions, consult an attorney for assistance.
Dispute any Reason for a Land Easement
Block the possibility of a new easement appurtenant by showing there is no necessity for the easement. For example, if your neighbor is trying to place an easement on your land claiming he needs to cross your land to get to his land, demonstrate this is untrue. Provide evidence, such as a map of the area, that demonstrates how your neighbor can access his land without crossing yours.
To get an easement, the person seeking the easement will have to take you to court. During the hearing before the judge, you will have the opportunity to challenge the easement and block it.
Have the Easement Dismissed When the Owner Sells the Land
Have an existing easement in gross terminated when the holder of the easement sells his property. Easements in gross are not automatically transferrable; therefore, the easement will end unless you grant a new one. Thus you can block a new easement from being attached to your land when the original easement holder sells his land or interest.
Easements appurtenant and easements by reservation, however, automatically pass and a new sale cannot block it. To terminate it, you would need to get the easement owner to execute a release agreement and file that with the county clerk or title office.
Quiet the Title
This applies in cases where easements were issued a long time ago. You can use legal action to remove some or all the easements. If you dispute an easement and no one disputes, it’s a win from your end.
A good example is an easement in which a woman had to cross a property to go to the other side to see the community. The easement had been in existence for 75 years, and the woman had long passed on. In this case, the easement was no longer valid and was therefore terminated.
Allow the Purpose for the Easement to Expire
In some cases, easements are issued for a set period of time and when it lapses, they no longer apply. A case in point is if you’ve given a utility company the right to use your property to access a site. You can specify the date that you want to terminate the easement when they complete undertaking the project.
Lindsay Nixon has been writing since 2007. Her work has appeared in "Vegetarian Times," "Women's Health Magazine" and online for The Huffington Post. She is also a published author, lawyer and certified personal trainer. Nixon has two Bachelors of Arts in classics and communications from the College of Charleston and a Juris Doctor from the New England School of Law.