Understanding Easement Disputes and Boundary Disputes

Mature man spying through a wooden fence in the garden Concept for blog: Understanding Easement Disputes and Boundary Disputes.

Easement disputes and boundary disputes are among the most common types of conflicts that can arise between neighbors. While these cases can sometimes be worked out between the parties, in certain situations, they can require litigation to resolve. If you’re facing a property dispute with your neighbor, it’s important to understand the legal implications that can come with it. The following explains the basics of what you should know about easement disputes and boundary disputes.

Easement Disputes

An easement gives another party the right to access their land for a limited purpose. Disputes can arise if the language in an easement agreement is vague or ambiguous — or there is no written agreement in place. Contentious easement disputes can involve trespassing or interference claims; land use and zoning issues; misuse of the easement; termination of the easement; encroachment; abandonment; or various liability issues. Easement disputes can also arise as a result of a party exceeding the scope of the easement or questions concerning who is responsible for maintenance.

If you’re facing an easement dispute, it’s essential to understand that California law recognizes five types of easements, including the following:

  • Express easements — An express easement is one that is expressly granted by the landowner to allow another person to use some or all of their property. These types of easements are generally evidenced by a written agreement that is recorded against the properties.
  • Implied easements — An implied easement arises when an easement was previously implied between two parties, absent a written agreement.
  • Easements by necessity — An easement by necessity usually occurs when someone’s property is landlocked, and they would need to use a portion of someone else’s land to gain access to a road.
  • Prescriptive easements — A prescriptive easement grants someone the right to use a portion of another’s land based upon an established history of use of a portion of another’s property in an easement-like manner.
  • Equitable easements - equitable easements arise from the outcome of legal disputes over encroachments. They are essentially created by the courts in an equitable fashion as a way to resolve legal actions.

There are several potential ways to resolve an easement dispute. In some cases, they can be settled by discussion between neighbors. They may also be resolved by entering into an agreement to terminate the easement or by purchasing the adjoining property. Depending on the circumstances, a property owner might be entitled to monetary damages if the easement holder destroys or diminishes the value of the property.

Boundary Disputes

A boundary dispute is a conflict that arises between the owners of neighboring properties. There can be many reasons these disputes arise. For instance, a landowner might believe the adjacent property owner is encroaching upon their land or a neighbor may erect a fence or structure that crosses over another’s property line. Resolving boundary discrepancies can often be complex — there are a number of legal doctrines that can come into play with these matters, including equitable easements, irrevocable licenses, adverse possession, and the agreed boundary doctrine.

Mediation can often be an effective way to deal with neighbor disputes. It can also help to maintain amicability with neighbors and lead to an outcome that works for both parties. However, if a boundary dispute cannot be settled between neighbors using an alternative dispute resolution method such as mediation or negotiation, a judge might need to determine the outcome. Courts in California typically rely on land surveys, legal descriptions of the land, and evidence of any agreements made between the adjacent property owners when deciding these matters.

Contact an Experienced California Real Estate Attorney

If you are facing a boundary or easement dispute, it’s best to have a knowledgeable real estate attorney by your side who can help you reach an effective resolution. The experienced real estate attorneys at White and Bright, LLP provide reliable representation for a wide variety of real estate matters, including easement disputes, boundary disputes, and other conflicts involving property rights. We welcome you to contact or call us at (760) 747-3200 to learn more about our legal services.

Categories: Real Estate