Easements

Covenants can burden future interests, at least where environmental protection is concerned

A California appellate court interpreted a conveyance to include both a fee simple subject to condition subsequent with a right of entry in the grantor and a conservation easement limiting the property as “natural open space.” While it is not clear the court interpreted the conveyance correctly, it is significant that the court found that an easement (or covenant) can coexist with a right of entry. If structured correctly, such a conveyance would mean that a grantor can both require title to be forfeited to the grantor (or its assignees) if the current possessor violates a conservation... Read more about Covenants can burden future interests, at least where environmental protection is concerned

No prescriptive easements for light and air

Re-affirming a longstanding common law rule, a Maryland court has held that land use that interferes with a neighbor’s desire for unobstructed light and air neither constitutes a nuisance nor can the neighbor acquire such rights by prescription. Gestamp Wind N. Am., Inc. v. All. Coal, LLC, 2021 WL 3612747 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2021). A neighbor whose wind turbines were losing effectiveness because the neighbor was piling coal remains on its property could not get a remedy for the change in wind to run... Read more about No prescriptive easements for light and air

Not a regulatory taking and no compensation due when a town acquires an easement by prescription

The Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts held that a town can acquire an easement by prescription and that, if it does, no just compensation is due because no regulatory taking has occurred. Rather, the landower failed to object by suing for trespass or to give permission so the statute of limitations for ejecting the intrusion passed and the owner's right to exclude was limited by statute and the doctrine of easement by prescription. The town did not "take" the property; the owner lost property rights by failing to take steps required by law to preserve those rights.... Read more about Not a regulatory taking and no compensation due when a town acquires an easement by prescription

Marketable title act extinguishes easement by necessity

In a surprising decision, the Vermont Supreme Court held that an easement by necessity must be recorded or it will be lost by operation of the state’s marketable title act. Gray v. Treder, 2018 VT 137, 204 A.3d 1117 (Vt. 2018). The facts of the case were unusual, however, because the easement in this case was not clearly visible by physical evidence of its use. That will...

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Easement by necessity may include right to lay utility lines for necessary services

The Connecticut Supreme Court has held that an easement of access established by necessity, an expansion of that easement for utility lines will be allow so long as it is reasonably necessary for the beneficial enjoyment of the dominant estate and does not unreasonably impair the servient estate owner’s beneficial enjoyment of their property.

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Easement by necessity available if the difficulty or expense of using a legally available route renders the land unfit for its reasonably anticipated use

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted an owner an easement by necessity even though the land contained a small strip connecting the land to a public way. Bartkowski v. Ramondo, 219 A.3d 1083 (Pa. 2019) (applying the Private Roads Act, 36 Pa. Stat. §§2731-2891. It did so on the ground that access need not be strictly necessary to get to the land for an easement...

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Owner of power line easement may install fibre optic cables without exceeding the scope of the easement

In a case applying what appears to be the majority rule, the Seventh Circuit held that an easement for power lines included the right to install lines for other purposes -- in this case fibre optic cables. West v. Louisville Gas & Electric Co., 951 F.3d 827 (7th Cir. 2020). The Texas Supreme Court rejected this...

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