TERMINATING EASEMENTS

Easements can be terminated in a number of ways. An easement is ended by release, when the owner of the easement expressly agrees to relinquish it. This is ordinarily done by quitclaim deed. Bear in mind, however, that since an easement is an interest in real property, the Statute of Frauds applies; releases of an easement ordinarily must be in writing, unless some exception to the Statute of Frauds applies.

An easement can also be ended by merger, when both the dominant and the servient estates are owned by the same person. Under Civil Code Section 805, an easement cannot exist, unless the two properties are owned by different parties. Thus, when the two parcels are acquired by the same person, the easement is ended. Please note, however, that the two parcels must be owned in exactly the same way, and with the same rights, by the same party; ownership of only some of the rights in one of the properties is not enough.

Simple nonuse of an easement ordinarily is not enough to end an easement. Nonuse of an easement, coupled with an intent not to use it in the future, however, equals abandonment of the easement. In addition, Civil Code Section 887.050 establishes a judicial procedure whereby an easement may be declared abandoned after nonuse for at least twenty years.

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