When a neighbor has a driveway easement over your property, she has the right to cross your property to get to her own. Easements may be granted by written agreement, inclusion in a deed, display on a subdivision plot or may be established by an extended period of use. If the easement-holder has a different way to access a public road, it may be possible to revoke a driveway easement by agreement.
First, Negotiate an Abandonment of Easement
Start by contacting the neighbor who uses the driveway easement to determine if you can agree to revoke it. If the driveway is the only accessible entrance to her property, you must identify another possible entrance. If that cannot be done, negotiations may be moot. When a dispute exists as to the revocation of the easement, the outcome will have to be determined in court. Even in a court action, it is unlikely a judge would terminate an easement leaving the user landlocked when your driveway is her only way to get to her property. Don't attempt to obstructing your neighbor's rightful use of an easement. This could result in a damage award in court.
Name the Price
It's unlikely that your neighbor will give up her driveway right of way out of the goodness of her heart – she is, after all, giving up a legal right and as a result it may be more difficult for her to access her property. You likely will need to negotiate a price or other consideration with your neighbor that she'll accept in exchange for terminating the driveway easement. She may require a sum of money or payment for the expense related to moving the entrance, provided her property fronts a public road. If her property doesn’t have road frontage, you might need to involve another adjacent property owner who will allow an easement over his property.
Write an Easement Release Agreement
Once terms are agreed, you'll need to prepare a written agreement that revokes the driveway easement for you and the easement-holder to sign. If more than one property owner has easement rights in the driveway easement, all must sign the agreement to terminate it. The agreement must contain an accurate description of the easement that is being revoked. You can find the description in a document that created the easement, on a plat or survey. If shown on a plat or survey, you may choose to attach the survey with the easement area marked, to the revocation agreement.
Signing and Recording Formalities
Statutes may require the parties to sign the agreement in the presence of additional witnesses and have all signatures notarized – check the rules for your state. Record the completed revocation document in the land records office where property deeds are recorded. This may be in the county probate office or the clerk's office, depending on your jurisdiction. You must also pay a fee to record the easement revocation.
- California Land Title Association: A Legal Introduction to Easements
- Brewer, Offord and Pederson LLP: How Are Easements Extinguished?
- City of Colonial Heights Department of Public Works. "Easements - What Is an Easement?," Page 2. Accessed March 11, 2020.
- Henderson County North Carolina. "Subdivision: Right-of-Way Frequently Asked Questions." Accessed March 11, 2020.
- Majr Resources. "What Is the Difference Between Easement & Right of Way?" Accessed March 11, 2020.
- Utah Department of Commerce. "Easements." Select "Is an Easement a Property Right?" Accessed March 11, 2020.
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- Trulia. "Easements: Know Your Property Rights." Accessed March 11, 2020.
- New York State Attorney General. "FAQs About Real Estate." Accessed March 11, 2020.
- Florida's Title Insurance Company. "How To Read a Title Commitment." Accessed March 11, 2020.
- Brewer Offord & Pedersen LLP. "What Is This “Easement” Thing In My Preliminary Report?" Accessed March 11, 2020.
- California Department of Insurance. "Title Insurance - Introduction." Accessed March 11, 2020.
- If the property owner merges the two properties by purchasing the other tract, the easement may cease to exist.
- Some easements, referred to as prescriptive easements, may be established merely by years of continual use.
- When a dispute exists as to the revocation of the easement, the outcome may be determined in court.
- Attempts to revoke an easement that would leave the easement-holder landlocked are unlikely to be successful.
- Obstructing a property owner’s rightful use of an easement could result in a damage award in court.
Marie Murdock has been employed in the legal and title insurance industries for over 25 years. Murdock was first published in print in 1979 and has been writing online articles since mid-2010. Her articles have appeared on LegalZoom and various other websites.