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How Can Easements Be Terminated?

Easements are usually permanent unless terminated by one of the ways recognized under Washington law. For example, an easement can be terminated if the property owner benefiting from the easement signs a written document stating that the easement is terminated.

Alternatively, an easement can be terminated if the owner of the land burdened by the easement obstructs the easement with the intent to eliminate it. For example, the landowner burdened by the easement might put up a fence that blocks the easement. Under Washington law, if that fence is in place for ten (10) years, the easement will be terminated.

Further, Washington law says that if the same person buys both the property benefiting from the easement and the property burdened by the easement, the easement will automatically be terminated. That is because with the same person owning both properties, the law says the easement is no longer needed for access to one property through the other property.

Easements can also be abandoned. But abandonment does not just mean that someone stops using the easement. Rather, the property owner benefiting from the easement must stop using the easement with the intent to abandon the easement. The person’s intent is shown through his/her actions. For example, if someone intentionally destroys a road he/she was using to access a different property, that action would show the intent to abandon the easement. At that point, the easement would likely be terminated under Washington law.

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