Updated on July 18, 2022
How do you extinguish an easement? Can you extinguish an easement just because you feel like it? There is a lot more to it, actually. There are several ways an easement is extinguished. Civil Code Section 811 provides that an easement is extinguished when certain events occur. We will identify these events below.
Merger occurs when the owner of the servient tenement (the land on which the easement sits) and the owner of the dominant tenement (the land of the easement owner) become one and the same. This is because a person cannot have an easement on his own land. For that reason, when the same person becomes the owner of both the servient tenement and dominant tenement, the easement is generally extinguished. However, for the easement to extinguish, the owner must have equal title and rights in both properties.
If the servient tenement is destroyed, then the easement will be extinguished. This usually occurs when there is an easement in a building. For example, if property owner A has an easement to use the staircase in property owner B’s building, and owner B’s building is later destroyed, then the easement is extinguished because property owner A only had an easement to use the staircase and not in the underlying land.
If the easement owner performs acts on either the dominant or servient tenement that are inconsistent with the nature or exercise of the easement, then the easement may be extinguished. This requires that the easement owner performs acts that (1) permanently prevent the use of the easement or (2) result in a physical change in the existing conditions thatprevents enjoyment of the easement without imposing a severe burden on the servient tenement.
Mere nonuse of the easement by the easement owner does not extinguish the easement regardless of how long the easement owner stopped using the easement. However, if the owner manifests an intent to abandon future use of the easement, then the easement will extinguish.
Our real estate easement attorneys at Schorr Law have much expertise and experience with easements. Do you need to extinguish an easement, or create one? Give us a call and schedule a consultation.