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What is an easement and how can it be terminated?

The word easement is used to refer to an instance in which you may have access to a property that another person legally owns. As an example, an electric company may have an easement in a new home community to allow their workers to drive into it and establish service. Also, if you and your neighbor share a driveway, then an easement may exist that allows you both to traverse a portion of each other's properties to reach your own.

Easements are generally passed on from one generation owner to the the next via a contract or will, most often through deed conveyance. If these documents are not properly executed, then the easement may not be upheld. Two reasons that the contract may be deemed to have not been properly executed is if the originator is asked to sign the contract under duress or their signature cannot be authenticated.

Even in the absence of a more formalized agreement, there are instances in which you may be able to assert an implied easement on someone else's property. Judges often evaluate these situations on a case-by-case basis. The only secure way to ensure that an easement will be preserved across generations or owners is to establish it through legally-binding contracts.

When you are granted an easement on a property, the right comes with strings attached. While it allows you to make improvements to the parcel, it also requires you to maintain it. You're also required to ensure that your activities on that parcel of land don't interfere with the original owner's own rights or enjoyment of that same property.

If you or the other owner of the property ever wish to terminate your easement agreement, you're able to do so as spelled out in the original contract. In instances in which the other party is unreachable, then an "intent to abandon" an easement may be allowed by a judge.

While a judge may consider your long-term use of a property to be a type of "implied easement," it's always better to secure your legal right to be on a property by signing an easement contract with the original owner. If you're looking for guidance in drafting a easement agreement or in resolving a dispute involving one, then a Melbourne, Florida, real estate litigation attorney can provide guidance in your legal matter.

Source: FindLaw, "Easements," accessed Nov. 29, 2017

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