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What is an easement?

Generally speaking, if you own property in California, you are the only one with an interest in the land and the only one with a right to use it. However, it is possible for someone who does not own a particular piece of property to gain a nonpossessory interest in it allowing the use of the property despite not being an owner. According to FindLaw, the legal term for this nonpossessory interest is an easement.

In rare instances, an easement may be negative, which means it prevents you from using your property in a particular way. For example, an easement may prevent you from building on your property because the resulting edifice would restrict the view from a neighboring property or interfere with the light it receives. However, most easements authorize a non-owner to use your property in some way, making them affirmative easements.

If there is an easement on your property, you retain the right to use the land in any way that does not interfere with the holder of the easement. In addition, you retain the right to exclude others from your property, with the exception of the easement holder. By contrast, the holder of the easement does not have the right to exclude others from the property, the only exception being those who interfere with the use that the easement authorizes. The easement holder also cannot occupy the land and cannot place an unreasonable burden on you as the landowner. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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Lawrence R. Jensen & Associates
95 S. Market St.
Ste. 550
San Jose, CA 95113

Phone: 408-465-0293
Fax: 408-899-2403
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