American law reflects the reality that the needs and circumstances of individual lives and business enterprises evolve over time. As a result, there are often mechanisms put into place that allow different legal scenarios to evolve as situations change. Married couples are allowed to pursue divorce. Estate planning documentation can be updated to reflect the births or deaths of intended beneficiaries. Businesses can be sold. Similarly, real estate contracts may be modified to reflect any number of changing needs, priorities, and circumstances. For example, express easements may be modified if certain conditions are met. While most easement agreements may not be modified unilaterally, most may be amended if both the landowner and the easement holder consent to a change.
Modifying Express Easements
Modifying an express easement allows both parties to clarify the scope of the easement interest. That modification can expand the interest (by allowing more people to benefit from access, allowing more activities to occur on the land affected by the easement, etc.) or limit that interest per its current allowances. To become legally enforceable, a modification must generally be written down, signed by both the landholder and the easement holder, and recorded in accordance with the legal procedures of the state in question. It is important that all amendment language is precise and clearly articulated, as muddled contractual language can lead to significant confusion and even legal disputes down the road. Similarly, it is important to work with an attorney, like a real estate lawyer in Sacramento, CA from Kassouni Law, to clarify whether the amendment will attach to the land or not, as doing so will save future owners and easement holders from confusion and arguments.
Unlike express easements, easements by necessity (obtained by a court order), prescriptive easements, and other implied easements created through a history of property use cannot generally be modified, as their terms were never expressly outlined and agreed to by both parties. There may be some exceptions to this rule under unique circumstances, but these easement interests may generally only be terminated, not modified.
Legal Assistance Is Available
If you’re interested in modifying an existing easement or you’re hoping to defend against a modification action, it’s important to seek legal guidance from a professional who is experienced in this area of law. Real estate law is complex and not every practicing real estate attorney has experience with easement disputes and modifications. Speaking with someone who understands how state and local laws may impact your unique situation will allow you the best possible opportunity to make informed decisions about your circumstances. Scheduling a consultation today will allow you to ask any questions you may have and to seek an informed perspective on your needs and options. Consultations are confidential and do not obligate you to take any legal action whatsoever. Therefore, you truly have nothing to lose and much to gain by speaking with an experienced attorney today.