Updated on February 7, 2023
In this next Schorr Law Chronicles blog, we will be discussing a case involving easements and licenses. Please note that while the experience written henceforth is real, in order to protect everyone’s privacy, the names have been changed. That said, everything here is public record and took place in a public proceeding.
Jennifer purchased a historic piece of real property in the heart of the Hollywood Hills. The single-family home she purchased was built by a famous Los Angeles Architect in a storybook French Normandy style home. The bulk of the outdoor living space at the property was in the front courtyard, which had a koi pond and cobblestone bricks.
The history of the property was that before Jennifer purchased the property, it was owned by a famous model – Rebecca. Rebecca, in turn, had been dating one of the most famous rock musicians in the world – Rick. Because Rebecca liked to entertain her famous boyfriend Rick at the property and enjoy evenings outside, she enclosed the courtyard with large walls and even built a new gated entrance. This enhanced the privacy in Rebecca’s outdoor space and protected Rick from the paparazzi and the public at large.
Fast forward to Jennifer’s ownership – she came to Schorr Law in the middle of a dispute with her neighbor. As it turns out, Jennnifer’s neighbor, Sophie complained that when Rebecca built the new entrance and added privacy walls she did so outside of Rachel’s property boundary lines. Accordingly, the neighbor sued to force Jennifer to remove her encroachments.
Schorr Law was engaged to try to get all the encroachments to remain. This was a tall task given that generally the law disfavors easements and related claims based on permanent physical encroachments because they run contrary to the very nature of an easement. An easement is meant to be for non-exclusive use. If you have a permanent encroachment, that tends to mean exclusive use.
Our real estate attorneys argued that Jennifer through Rebecca’s use had developed prescriptive rights to use the gated area for ingress and egress given the history of use of that area for more than 5 years. We also argued a relatively unique concept called an irrevocable license. We argued that Rachel’s neighbor had given Rebecca permission to build up her walls and to build the entrance gate beyond the property boundaries such that the permission could not be revoked after Rebecca had spent a large amount of money on the permission based construction.
This case went all the way to the brink of trial. We used historical experts to talk about the continuity between the two warring properties that were both built by the same architect and in the same style. We argued the historical significance of the structures, the need to keep them linked through the courtyard and brought in historical records, historic property designations and related testimony regarding the courtyard.
Ultimately, all our efforts worked. Five minutes before trial was set to start, the other side caved and offered a generous settlement to resolve the dispute.
Schorr Law attorneys have vast experience with easements and licenses. To schedule a consultation with an attorney to get a case evaluation, please call us at (310) 954-1877, or send us a message through our contact form.