Updated on May 24, 2021
In commercial real estate, reciprocal easement agreements (REAs) are commonly used to set forth agreements regarding easements, restrictions and covenants between property owners sharing common areas or adjoining properties. REAs are most common for shopping centers and office complexes, where the properties may share common parking lots, access to public roads, and common areas.
As REAs are agreements setting out the rights and obligations of different owners, some REAs may be more lengthy and complex, depending on the number of parties involved and the particular needs of the property owners. Common provisions of an REA include the following terms:
REAs can set forth where customers, tenants, and employees of the various properties park their vehicles, types of vehicles permitted, and the number of spaces required for each property.
The property owners may grant easements to one another for ingress and egress to all common areas, such as escalators, elevators, and hallways.
The parties may agree on easements for placement of signs, as well as the size, locations, lighting, and maintenance of signs.
Reciprocal easement agreements will provide the terms for maintaining and repairing common areas, easements, and shared utilities.
In addition, it is not uncommon to see covenants that set forth the accepted uses of the properties, operating hours, and limitations to the number or type of tenants that may enter the complex. For example, the parties can agree that no more than one cosmetics retailer be permitted to enter a lease in the shopping center, or that a restaurant’s operating hours begin after 5:00 p.m. so as to not overburden the parking lot that it shares with a major retailer during the afternoon hours.
REAs are interests in land and thus must be in writing to comply with the Statute of Frauds. They are recorded in the county in which the property is located to provide notice of the covenants and easements to subsequent purchasers of any one of the parcels involved.
As REAs are contracts, they generally include a mechanism for enforcement. It is common for REAs to provide for attorneys’ fees to be awarded to a party who prevails in enforcing a term of the REA.
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