I Have an Unusable Easement Across My Land – Can the Easement Owners Use Another Part of My Land?

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“I own 10 acres in Lake Shasta, CA. The property is square in shape. My property has a prescriptive easement running from the Southeast corner to the Northwest corner. This easement was drawn to allow access to three other properties that touch ours.

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The question is, since this easement was drawn for subdivision purposes back in the 70’s on paper, the reality is it goes up the side of a steep hill, too steep to cut a road for access. This would leave them landlocked.

If I cut a road for my needs on my property (not on the easement) do the other three properties have the right to use my road without contributing to the road cost to gain access?”

The short answer is no.

An easement, whether prescriptive (created by use) or granted (created by deed or other document), is usually over a particular physical area. It would be very unusual for an easement to be over any road on your property, regardless of where it is moved. (It’s not impossible, I suppose; you should check the document and see what it says.) So chances are that your neighbors do not have an easement of any sort over the area where you are planning to put the new road.

There is a concept known as an easement by necessity. This occurs when property is subdivided in such a way that one parcel is truly landlocked. The courts do not like to use this doctrine except when absolutely necessary, since it in essence creates an easement without either party’s intent. However, even if it did apply and even if it did give your neighbors the right to use your new road (neither of which I am sure of), they would definitely be required to contribute to its upkeep.



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Author: House Attorney

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