Ways to Terminate Real Estate Easements
Whether you're buying a new property and are concerned about an easement listed on your abstract of title or are planning to renovate your current property and have been frustrated by the long-standing easements, don't give up hope. There are several ways for you to remove problematic real estate easements.
Institute a Lawsuit Known As a Quiet Title Action
Sometimes properties have easements that were instituted many years ago, and an action can be initiated to quiet the title and remove some easements.
Suppose the legal description of a property is a very old one, there's never been title insurance, and some of the boundaries are described as fence lines of properties owned by others. A quiet title action might be initiated to announce the intent to make the boundaries agree with a current survey, even if they aren't precisely along the fence lines. If no disputes to the action arise, the title would be quieted and the land would be replatted as surveyed.
Allow the Purpose for the Easement to Expire
One real-world example of this was an easement for one specifically named woman to cross the property of another to access a community well. The easement was over 75 years old, the woman was deceased, and moreover, the well had long since been capped for health reasons. For all of these reasons, the easement was no longer necessary and was terminated.
Merge the Dominant and Servient Properties
When two adjacent properties have an easement on one (the servient property), for the benefit of the adjoining (dominant property), you have an appurtenant easement.
Should one owner acquire both properties into one legal description, the easement would no longer need to exist.
Execute a Release Agreement
If an easement exists and the new owners of both properties find that it is no longer of interest or use to the dominant property owner, the easement can be terminated by a release document from the dominant property owner to the servient property owner.
This release document can either release the servient property owner from the easement or release the easement property to the servient property owner, thus releasing the easement property from being an easement.
Stop Using a Prescriptive Easement
Should the holder of a prescriptive easement cease to use it, action can be initiated to end the easement.
Destroy the Reason for the Easement
In the case of an easement created for a party wall—a wall on the property line that serves both properties—the destruction of the party wall would effectively terminate the easement.
Terminate the Easement
Though most easements "run with the land"—or pass forward in effect to new owners of the involved properties—there are reasons that would render an easement of no further use or ways that easements can be terminated.
As these easements are legal rights to the use of a property granted to another nonowner, it will often, but not always, require some sort of overt legal action or procedure to remove an easement.