An easement is a right of use over the land of another for a specific purpose. Easements are granted for a variety of purposes. Examples of easements include:
If an easement benefits a particular parcel of land, it is known as an appurtenant easement. To be appurtenant, an easement must have a dominant estate (the land which benefits from the easement) and a servient estate (the land which is burdened by the easement). If an easement benefits a specific individual, it is known as an easement in gross.
Texas law allows for the creation of easements in several ways:
Easements – An express easement is created by written agreement,
usually a deed, between a grantor and a grantee. The easement agreement should describe
the location and dimensions of the easement as well as how the easement
may be used.
Easements by Implication – To establish an easement by implication, a claimant must prove four elements:
1. Unity of ownership between the dominant and
2. Apparent use of the easement at the time unity of title was severed;
3. Continuous use of the easement such that the parties must have intended its use to pass with the grant of the dominant estate;
4. Reasonable necessity of the easement for the use and enjoyment of the dominant estate.
If the use of the easement is for mere convenience rather than reasonable necessity, an easement by implication will not be found.
Easements By Estoppel – An easement by estoppel arises if a claimant can prove that:
1. A representation was communicated to him either
in words or by action;
2. He believed the representation; and
3. He relied on the representation.
Easements By Necessity – An easement by necessity is a type of implied easement and may be proven by demonstrating that:
1. There was unity of title prior to severance;
2. Access to the easement is a necessity rather than a mere convenience; and
3. The necessity existed at the time of severance of the dominant and servient estates.
Some easement agreements include arbitration clauses which require the parties to submit to arbitration in the event a dispute arises. Even when an easement agreement does not require arbitration, courts may order the litigants to attend mediation.
Easement disputes frequently arise because the parties do not understand their rights and obligations under the easement agreement or fail to abide by the terms of the agreement. Easement disputes may involve a variety of issues, including allegations of:
If you are involved in an easement dispute or are unclear about your rights and obligations under an easement agreement, you should contact a qualified real estate attorney. A real estate attorney will review the facts of your case along with any supporting documentation you have and will advise you of how Texas easement law impacts your case.