One of the main benefits of owning a piece of land is control. Through ownership, you have the ability to use the property in whatever lawful manner you’d like. When considering a potential real estate purchase, it is vital to have a professional do due diligence to check for any existing easements that might hinder your plans for the property.
Even if one or more easements exist on the land, do not fret. There are avenues available to attempt to terminate such an encumbrance.
6 ways to end an easement
Easements come in two general forms: appurtenant (meaning the usage right is tied to the land involved) and in gross (in which the easement benefits an individual or commercial party). In either case, there are often potential legal remedies available through which you can attempt to terminate an easement.
The Georgia Institute of Real Estate provides six such methods of easement termination:
- Release: The owner of the dominant estate agrees, in writing, to terminate the easement
- Merger: One party takes ownership of both properties
- Expiration: The initial reason for the easement no longer exists
- Abandonment: The easement holder stops utilizing the easement, and signals they won’t use it again in the future
- Prescription: The servient estate owner prevents the other party from using the easement, openly and continuously, for a long period of time
- End of necessity: An easement created out of necessity usually expires if the necessity ceases to exist
Which of these methods of termination may apply to your situation depends entirely on the specific circumstances of the land in question. The above list is a simplified summary of potential options.
Ensure a termination is legally sound
It would be unwise to simply assume with certainty that an easement on the land you own (or are looking to acquire) can be ended via one of these methods. Determining which termination option might be feasible requires thorough research and some legal legwork. In some cases you may even find yourself embroiled in litigation, with a nearby property owner offering significant pushback.
Real estate is too valuable to operate on presumptions. You can protect yourself and your interests by leaning on outside help to ensure all legal bars are cleared.