An easement is a right or privilege to use someone else’s land for a specific purpose, such as how you might enjoy the public beach even though your home isn’t waterfront.
When someone buys a property, they’re often not aware that there’s an easement on the property. Those easements may exist due to deeds or other documents created by the previous owners. So now you’re probably wondering, what if that happens to me? How should I get rid of an easement that I didn’t even know existed?
Don’t worry. Getting rid of an easement isn’t as difficult as it sounds — that is if you know how to go about it. Once again, there’s no need to worry. This post will cover everything you need to know about how to get rid of an easement. Stick around until the end and we promise, your mind will be put to ease.
Identifying the Type of Easement
The first step would be to identify what type of easement you need to be removed from your property. There are four main types:
- Prescriptive Easements: This is an easement that someone uses without the landowner’s permission.
- Express Easements: This is an easement that’s specifically mentioned in a deed or other legal document.
- Implied Easements: This is a right of way implied only if you need it to get from one property to another.
- Party Easements: This is an easement that benefits two or more people.
To find out which easement you’re dealing with, you’ll need to look at the deed or other document that created the easement. If you’re not sure how to do that, you can always contact a real estate attorney for help.
Understanding the Nature of Easements
Before we explain how to remove an easement from your property, it’s important that you first understand the nature of an easement.
Most Easements Are Technically Permanent
Most easements are technically permanent. By technically permanent, we mean that they have such a long expiry date that it doesn’t make sense to label them temporary.
Most Easements Have an Expiry Date
Even though most easements are technically permanent, they still have an expiry date. In a way, an easement is like a driver’s license. It’s not automatically renewable and you have to go through the process of getting a new one if you want it to continue.
All Easements Can Be Removed One Way or Another
Even though it’s not always easy, all easements can be removed one way or another. So if one method doesn’t work for you, what that is means you just have to try another and then another until you find that does.
Removing an Easement from Your Property
Once you understand the nature of an easement and know which type of easement you have, it’s time to start the process of removing it from your property. There are dozens of ways to get rid of an easement, among which the following four are ideal for most cases.
1. Buy the Surrounding Property
The first way to remove an easement is by buying the surrounding property. If you own all of the properties and land around your home, then this option makes sense for how to get rid of an easement from your property.
However, this approach is not possible for many people and impractical for most because they don’t have that kind of money on hand nor do they want more land than they already have.
2. Remove or Alter Boundaries
The next way to remove an easement is by removing or altering the boundaries. You can do this yourself with a pick and shovel, but you’ll need to know how your property lines are drawn for it to work.
This approach won’t be helpful if you don’t have any idea of how your boundary markers were put into place originally because they may not match up exactly where the title says they should be located on the ground. If that’s the case, then you will have to deal with your local city planning officials about the kind of changes you plan to make.
Another drawback would be how much time and effort it takes to make these kinds of changes manually — especially if those changes need to be done on a large scale.
All that being said, you can always hire help. Hiring a lawyer and labor may cost you some money but it will make this task far easier for you.
3. Remove the Easement through Release
The third way to remove an easement is by releasing it. This means that one of the parties involved in the original agreement no longer wants or needs the easement. When one party doesn’t want the easement, the agreement becomes void in many cases.
So if your property has a party easement and you can get one of the members to terminate it, that may be all you need to do.
4. Remove the Easement through Merger or Consolidation
The fourth and final way to remove an easement is through a merger or consolidation. This approach happens when two or more pieces of land come together and form one big piece of land. The easement then becomes irrelevant because it’s no longer true.
Typically, this approach can be a little more complicated to execute than the others. However, in certain cases, it’s the easiest solution. If you believe this is a viable option for you, then go for it.
Getting rid of an easement isn’t as hard as it sounds. All easements expire at some point and even if they don’t, you have several ways to terminate them. So as long as you follow the advice shared in this post, you have nothing to worry about.