Updated on October 28, 2022
As we discussed in our previous posts, there are many methods of creating an easement. Today, we discuss the creation of an easement by prescription in California. This is an easement right granted at law when the dominant estate accesses the property of the servient estate for a defined period of time for a specific purpose, without consent.
To establish a prescriptive easement, a claimant must prove use of the property, for the statutory period of five years, which has been:
Generally, the claimant has the burden of proof of proving each of the elements necessary to establish that the easement has been created by prescription. (Code Civ. Proc. § 321.) (Main Street Plaza v. Cartwright & Main (2011) 194 CaL.App.4th 1044, 1054.)
Whether the easement satisfies the above requirements is considered a question of fact. (Warsaw v. Chicago Metallic Ceilings, Inc. (1984) 35 Cal.3d 564, 571.) Accordingly, a claimant is usually entitled to a jury trial on these factual issues. (Arciero Ranches v. Meza (1993) 17 Cal.App.4th 114, 125-126.)
In addition to the above requirements, the claimant also must show that their prescriptive easement is not exclusive. What this means is that a claimant generally cannot establish a easement through prescription for a physical encroachment. (See Mehdizadeh v. Mincer (1996) 46 Cal.App.4th 1296) This is because an easement is meant to allow someone to make specific use of someone else’s property, and not to obtain fee title. (Id.) Otherwise, a claimant could do an end run around the tax requirement for obtaining fee title via adverse possession. (Id.) Accordingly, prescriptive easements have traditionally been granted for rights of way and ingress and egress purposes.
However, as we will discuss in future posts, you may still be able to obtain an easement for a physical encroachment if you can establish that you are entitled to an easement based on the equitable principles.
Are you looking for a real estate lawyer in Los Angeles? Schorr Law has the top rated property easement dispute attorneys servicing California. Whether your easement issues involve right of ways or physical encroachments, we have experience in analyzing easement issues related to all types of easements.