As you know, an easement is a right to cross over someone else’s property. To the question, “Can you terminate an easement?” the short answer is, “Yes, easements can be terminated.”
There are four ways an easement can be terminated:
- By Expiration
- By Agreement
- By Abandonment
- Via Doctrine of Merger
Some easements are granted for a finite period of time. When the time period is up, the easement is said to expire. Easements of this sort are said to terminate by expiration, because they are granted for a finite period of time only.
For example, if Alice grants Bill an easement for a period of ten years, at the end of the ten-year period the easement will terminate.
Some easements are terminated by agreement of the owner of the easement. Termination by Agreement happens when the owner expressly conveys the easement back to the grantor.
For example, if Alice owns an easement over Bill’s land, and Bill requests that Alice to release the easement, Alice may execute a termination agreement conveying the easement right she had back to Bill. Once this agreement is signed by Alice, the easement will terminate.
Easements can terminate when the owner abandons his or her right to the easement. Usually mere nonuse of an easement is not enough to qualify for termination. In the State of Idaho, an easement may be terminated by abandonment only if the owner makes a clear, unequivocal, decisive act to abandon the easement.
For example, a decisive act to abandon could include creating a new alternate road for ingress and egress or erecting barriers across the easement.
Via Doctrine of Merger
Finally, an easement may be terminated by the Doctrine of Merger. Under the Doctrine of Merger, if one party acquires the properties subject to, and benefited by, an easement, the easement will have been said to merge with the other rights held by the owner. Once a merger occurs, the easement is said to have terminated because a landowner cannot have an easement over his own land.
In conclusion, whether these four methods of terminating an easement are available to you depends on the jurisdiction where the easement is located.