What is an Easement?

By CHELSEY THORNE, Legal Intern

 An easement is a right to use someone else’s land, for a specified purpose, without owning the property.  Kiely v. Graves, 173 Wn.2d 926, 936, 271 P.3d 226, 232 (2012)  Easements fall into two categories: in gross and appurtenant.  M.K.K.I., Inc. v. Krueger, 135 Wn. App. 647, 655, 145 P.3d 411, 416 (Div. III 2006).  In gross easements are connected to an individual and created  specifically for the individual’s benefit.  Id. Appurtenant easements run with the land and may be transferred to subsequent purchasers.

Appurtenant easements are the most common type of easement. Id.  Within this category, there are several varieties of easements. Express Easements occur when a document expressly states the terms of an easement. Easements of Necessity arise when it is necessary for a person to use a portion of another person’s land in order to access and or fully enjoy his or her land. RCW 8.24.010. Implied Easements arise when (1) there has been unity of title and subsequent separation; (2) when there has been a continuous “quasi easement” existing for benefit of one part of the property to detriment of another part of the property during unity of title; and (3) where there is certain degree of necessity that a “quasi easement” exist after separation of the property. Hellberg v. Coffin Sheep Co., 66 Wn.2d 664, 668, 404 P.2d 770, 773 (1965). Finally, Easements by Prescription are similar to adverse possession in that the use of the land must be open and adverse to the land owner.  Easements by prescriptions are not favored by Washington law, and can be difficult for a claimant to prove. Kunkel v. Fisher, 106 Wn. App. 599, 602, 23 P.3d 1128, 1130 (Div. I 2001)

Property is an essential right that must be protected.  Although most matters can be cordially settled, land use disputes still arise between landowners.  Disputes may include questions about the proper granting of an easement, description and boundary lines of an easement, or use and purpose of the easement.  If you have questions or concerns regarding your property rights, the attorneys at Wolff, Hislop & Crockett can help. Contact us today for a consultation.

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