Easement Dispute: Types of Easements

Charleston Easement Dispute | Real Estate LitigationMuch like a boundary line dispute, an easement dispute involves challenges to land boundaries and property arrangements. An easement refers to someone’s legal right to use another person’s land for a specific purpose. Some easement disputes may wish to remove or alter contractually based easements, known as express easements, established in the deed of a property or any other real estate contract. For instance, an electrical company or a water facility may have legal authority to access private land in order fix electrical or water-related issues as stipulated by a commercial lease agreement, but a family may wish to try to challenge this right or demand certain conditions be met by the electrical and water companies during repairs.

Any easement dispute that arises out a verbal or non-contractual easement involves implied easements. Implied easements may be implied by necessity or implied by existing use. An easement implied by necessity might involve someone who necessitates some land access in order to receive a publicly accessible utility, such as a food delivery company who must access a bank’s private parking lot in order to make deliveries to a public alleyway with no other access point. Meanwhile, an easement implied by existing use might involve someone who previously used some aspect of the land for convenient access and still expects to have that right. Children walking home from school who were once told they could cross through a neighbor’s backyard in order to take a safer and faster route home could be thought of as having an implied easement by existing use.

A third type of easement dispute could arise from challenges to a prescriptive easement. A prescriptive easement is not necessarily contractually or verbally expressed, but has been used by an individual for such a long period of time that this individual is said to have an assumed right to use the land for this specific purpose. One individual may claim to have a prescriptive easement if he/she parked on their neighbor’s driveway for several years without any complaints from the neighbor, while the neighbor may try and argue that disapproval was previously expressed.

Easements are an incredibly diverse legal instrument which means that every easement dispute requires specialized attention. In spite of the clear categorization of easements, many real estate litigation cases can hinge upon the classification of a property as a prescriptive easement opposed to an implied easement. This makes it essential to understand the basic differences between the different types of easements. Our Charleston real estate litigation attorneys provide legal counsel to individuals, families and businesses on array of easement dispute matters to ensure that our clients have a proper understanding of their property rights and their ability to access public resources.