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The different types of easements in California

Owning property brings with it a great deal of complexity when it comes to complying with property law. Like most people in California (unless you work extensively in the legal or real estate markets), your familiarity with these laws is likely limited. This may be especially true when it comes to a topic as complicated as easements.

Most come to us here at Cadden & Fuller LLP ignorant to either their role in an easement dispute or their rights to utilize another’s property. Just as it did them, the fact that there are actually multiple types of easements may shock you.

Defining an easement

Yet before you understand the various types of easements, you must first comprehend the concept behind them. Per the California Land Title Association, an easement refers to your right to use the land of another (and vice versa). State law recognizes the following four types of easements:

  • Express easements: You and another property owner have an expressed (written) agreement to utilize a tract of the other’s property
  • Implied easement by existing use: Court officials determine you and another property owner intended to utilize the same tract of land even after a property distinction divides it
  • Easement by necessity: You and another property owner have no choice but to share the same tract of property
  • Prescriptive easement: You (or another property owner) utilize a tract of the other’s property on a continuous basis for at least five years, and you (or the other property owner) remain aware of the use

Establishing scope

Only in the case of an express easement can you and the other property owner completely control the scope of the tract’s use. Each of the other cases typically requires a court order to establish a standard.

You can find more information on dealing with easements throughout our site.