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Resolving easement disputes between commercial property owners

Even the friendliest of neighbors can find themselves in a dispute over an easement. Generally, the holder of an easement has the legal right to use a portion of someone else’s property (known as the servient estate) for a specific purpose.

Some common types of easements include:

  • Utility (e.g., electric, sewer or water)
  • Express (e.g., parking lot specified in property deed)
  • Necessity (e.g., owner can only access their property by walking on a driveway located on the servient estate)
  • Prescriptive (created over time with the knowledge of the owner of the servient estate)
  • Public (e.g., park for public use on company’s land)

How are easement disputes resolved?

Most disputes relate to a party’s use of a property without a valid easement or the interference with the easement holder’s use of the easement. In some cases, the existing easement is too ambiguous and does not provide enough detail as to the permitted uses and restrictions.

Resolving these disputes may require litigation to:

  • Recover monetary damages from the easement holder for misuse of the servient estate or damage to the servient estate.
  • Specify the location or other details of the easement.
  • Limit or expand the terms of the easement.
  • Terminate the easement entirely.

Easement disputes in California can sometimes be resolved through negotiation, but litigation is much more likely when commercial property is involved. The longer the issue goes unresolved, the more of a financial impact it will have on both parties. A real estate litigation attorney can help you resolve any easement dispute that arises as quickly as possible, while protecting your rights.