WHAT IS AN EASEMENT?

As a rule, owners have the right to do as they please on their own property. The owners’ right of control, however, may be limited by easements. An easement is a right which one party has to do something on the property of another. “An easement…,gives a privilege to a particular person or owner of property to enjoy a right over the property of another.” Elliot v. McCombs (1941) 17 Cal. 2d 23, 30. “’An easement involves primarily the privilege of doing a certain act on, or to the detriment of, another’s property.’ An easement gives a nonpossessory and restricted right to a specific use or activity upon another’s property, which right must be less than the right of ownership.” Mehdizadeh v. Mincer (1996) 46 Cal. App. 4th 1296, 1306, quoting Wright v. Best (1942) 19 Cal. 2d 368, 381. An easement “represents a limited privilege to use the land of another for the for the benefit of the easement holder’s land, but does not create an interest in the land itself.” Beyer v. Tahoe Sands Resort (2005) 129 Cal. App. 4th 1458, 1472, quoting Kazi v. State Farm fire & Casualty Co. (2001) 24 Cal. 4th 871, 881.

The property, which is benefited by the easement, is called the dominant estate. The property, which is burdened by the easement, is called the servient estate. The owner of the servient estate is not permitted to build any structures, which prevent the easement from being used as intended.

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