Can You Quit Claim an Easement?

by Lynne Haley Rose ; Updated July 27, 2017
Your city utilities worker may have the right to access your property due to a longstanding easement.

A quitclaim deed is a simple document that you can use to transfer real estate to someone else. A property easement is the right of use over someone else's property. Depending on the type of easement in question, it may transfer with a piece of property each time the land is bought or sold, and a new owner may wish to get rid of the easement. When this issue arises, different methods for terminating an easement are available.

Types of Easements

Historically, owners of adjoining property would agree to an easement that gave one of them a legal right to cross the neighbor's property to access his own. In most cities, municipal service providers use property easements to access people's water meters or electric meters for monthly billing purposes. In general, these easements are known as appurtenant — belonging to something else — and stay with the real estate no matter who owns it. Another type of agreement, called an easement in gross, is a temporary agreement granted by a property owner to another person to access the land for a specific purpose. This kind of agreement can be transferred but not permanently added to a property title.

Removing an Easement

An easement in gross typically expires according to the agreement between parties. One way in which you can terminate an easement appurtenant that exists between your land and your neighbor's is by purchasing the adjoining property to which the easement applies. Another way to terminate such an easement is for the owner who benefits from the easement to execute a deed, such as a quitclaim deed, to surrender the easement.

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Terminating an Easement with a Quitclaim Deed

A quitclaim deed is a legal renunciation to a claim relating to real estate. As the property owner who benefits from an easement, you can relinquish your right to the easement by signing a quitclaim deed to that effect at a notary's office and registering the document with your county recording office. Thereafter, you cannot legally use the easement. However, if others, such as a utility company or other neighbors also use the easement, you cannot terminate it through a quitclaim deed. All you are doing is giving up your own right to use it.

Abandonment

An easement can be nullified without any legal proceedings if one of the parties abandons it. For example, if the city builds a new road that provides direct access to your property and you no longer have the need to cross your neighbor's land, you can abandon the easement. The two legal requirements to show abandonment are that you clearly demonstrate that you no longer need the easement, possibly through establishing a habit of using the more direct route, and that your actions are intentional. Simply telling your neighbor of your intention may suffice.

About the Author

I have an MFA degree in Creative Writing and am a published poet who has received several poetry awards. I have established a reputation as an environmental activist, both through the group I co-founded -- see alternativeone.org -- and through a series of op-ed pieces in Montana newspapers. I have written extensively on alternative energy, recycling and endangered species.

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