Thursday, May 10, 2012

MBE Fast Fact: Terminating Easements

One method of terminating an express easement (an easement created by a signed writing) is by abandonment. It's important to remember the general rule, that abandonment will only apply if the holder of the easement demonstrates by physical action (for example, building a structure that blocks the easement), an intent to permanently abandon the easement.

But don't stop there in your analysis. If there is no physical action demonstrating an intent to permanently abandon the easement, the easement can still be terminated on a theory of estoppel. Estoppel requires an oral expression by the holder of the easement of an intent to abandon the easement, and the reasonable reliance of another who detrimentally changes his position in reliance on the oral expressions of the easement holder. In other words, if estoppel applies, then the easement can be terminated, even if all the elements of abandonment have not been satisfied.

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