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The Role of Easements in California Property Law

Property laws provide landowners with significant rights and options for protecting the parcels and structures that they own. In California, a person who wishes to purchase a parcel of property should know what they are getting for the price they negotiate in order to acquire it. In order to establish the boundaries and inclusions that a parcel contains at its sale, a purchaser will often ask to review deeds and other legal documents that describe just what is considered part of their desired parcel.

One legal term that they may see in those documents is the word “easement.” An easement is a specific type of property right. If a parcel contains an easement, it means that a non-owner of the property has the power to use some part of the parcel in a particular way.

A common example of an easement concerns the ability of a landowner to access their property. If a landowner cannot get to their property without crossing the property of another person, they may be able to secure an easement for ingress and egress across the other’s land. This type of easement may be considered an easement of necessity and may be granted by court order to allow the limited landowner access to their parcel.

Easements can be established by agreements between landowners, or they may be established by court orders, as discussed above. An easement may be implied if it was never formally created but was intended by the affected landowner. Prescriptive easements may also be created when a party uses the land of another for at least 5 years and without the affected landowner’s permission.

Easements impact property rights and in some cases the uses that landowners can establish for their parcels. Real estate and property law attorneys can provide information and answers to individuals who have concerns about what impact easements may have on their real property interests. Readers may review the contents of this post as an introduction to the topic of easements but should not rely on it as legal advice.