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I have a non-exclusive easement for roadway and utilities purposes along the side of my property - What are my rights?

Ojai, CA |

During the time I have lived here my neighbors have used the strip of property park vehicles, household goods, etc. for sale, stage building supplies, park broken down vehicles, yard debris, and more. The latest being storing a slurry machine next to my newly planted trees for a week before any road work was to begin. When I asked the Contractor to remove the machine my neighbor parked his truck in front of it so it couldn't be towed, and demanded that he and all the neighbors owned the property and I had nothing to say about it. Do I have any rights to this property or can my neighbors continue to use the land as their dumping ground? I need advice and probably an attorney to fix this. The officer said I could go to the county and get some form and maybe post signs - HELP!

Opps, part of my post didn't make it. The 'officer' I mentioned resulted from a call I had to place to the police in order to keep the peace with my ranting 'neighbor' (sigh). I have lived on the property for 14 yrs, and have put up with the abuse trying to be a 'good neighbor', but the slurry machine next to my new trees was my wake up call at just how little regard my neighbors have for my property.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. An 'easement' is a present interest in real estate, giving the holder a right to the real property and the ability to bring a suit for trespass or ejectment. Because it is an interest in the property itself, it is subject to the statute of frauds, so must be granted in writing.
    The question is whether the neighbors' use of the property interferes with the normal use of your easement. If their action prevents its use as roadway by you, then you will have to take legal action. You definitely should consult with a real estate attorney.

    Disclaimer The content of this comment contains general information based on California law and is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. You require specific legal advice and should not rely on general information provided in response to a question posted online. You should consult with an attorney to discuss the matter and for any specific legal advice.


  2. If the easement is for normal ingress and egress across a portion of your land in order for the other landowners to access their residences, the easement would not normally include the right to park anything on the easement. Doing so regularly is an overburden of the easement and such activity can be enjoined by a court order. It is important that you immediately take some affirmative action to declare this parking as unauthorized, like posting a 'no parking' sign, or fencing off the parking area if possible. If you wait too long - five years or more - the neighbors excess use of the easement could ripen into a prescriptive easement of its own. You should call a real estate attorney right away.

    Richard A. Rodgers, Esq.
    SHANE, DiGIUSEPPE & RODGERS LLP
    200 N. Westlake Blvd., Ste 201
    Westlake Village, CA 91362
    (805) 230-2525
    rar@sd-attorneys.com
    www.sdresq.com

    As stated in the AVVO.COM Terms and Conditions of Use, this answer is not intended as legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship or privilige is created by this response.


  3. As I understand your question, you own the property and one or more neighbors have an easement across a portion of your property.

    An easement is a limited, "non-possessory interest" in land. That means that the easement holder does not own the land and cannot "possess" it. Rather, the easement holder is limited to some use such as a right of way for ingress and/or egress.

    By parking vehicles and placing debris there, the easement holder is likely exceeding his rights and you could likely sue to stop them from parking vehicles and placing property on the easement area.

    The starting point should be the easement itself.
    Does the easement describe what the permitted uses are?
    Does it describe the exact location so that you can further limit what parts of the property they can enter or fence off the remaining portion of your property?
    If it provided a right of way for a landlocked parcel, does the parcel now have access to a road from some other means?
    Does the easement provide for an expiration date or a manner to have it cancelled?
    Although the easement is on your property, you have no duty to maintain it. Let it go wild.

    After reviewing the easement document, I would recommend sending them a cease and desist letter. If they continue to violate the easement, you may have no recourse but to seek a court injunction.

    This answer is for general education purposes only. It neither creates an attorney-client relationship nor provides legal guidance or advice. The answer is based on the limited information provided and the answer might be different had additional information been provided. You should consult an attorney.

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