One of the more annoying aspects of owning or buying a property is the possibility that an old easement may create problems. Fortunately, real estate legal services providers have some tools for trying to address such situations. Let's look at 5 tools a law firm might elect to use.
Quieting a Title
Many easements don't match what's going on in the real world today. Perhaps the easement matched up with reality decades ago, but a property lines change and features disappear. If an easement is based on something that is no longer on your property, you can file a legal action to quiet the title. This nullifies all easements that don't line up with the current state of the property. Depending on the nature of the easement, you may have to hire a professional to conduct a survey and submit the results to the county register.
Merge the Properties Involved in the Easement
A more drastic solution when an easement can't be quieted is to purchase the two properties and merge them. Once you become the owner of both lots, the easement is yours to terminate.
Ask the Holder to End the Easement
Sometimes it's just better to ask. You can have the law firm representing your interest draw up paperwork to terminate the agreement, and you and the other party can sign. With a little luck, you won't have to involve the court any further than submitting a copy of the agreement and the modifications to the title.
Compensate the Easement Holder
Nothing says you want a problem gone like money, assets, or rights. Even a token form of compensation can go a long way toward convincing someone to release their rights to an easement. In exchange for good compensation, they can sign an agreement similar to the one discussed in the previous section. Make note of the compensation in the agreement in case there are questions about unfair practices in the deal.
Review the Purpose of the Easement
Even a permanent easement is something of a use-it-or-lose-it proposition. Suppose an electric company had an easement for maintaining lines that cross your property. If the lines have since been moved elsewhere and no longer follow the path outlined in the easement, then the easement is void.
Be aware, however, that brief interruptions of purpose usually don't count. For example, if the electric company took down the lines to install new ones, the easement remains in effect because the interruption had a purpose rather than constituting abandonment.