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CalAttorney2, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 10244
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney with experience representing HOAs, homeowners, businesses and others in real estate matters.
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Question, How difficult is it to terminate utility easements

Customer Question

Question, How difficult is it to terminate utility easements across a property when the house has basically been abandoned for 15 years and the house is termite and carpenter bee infested to a point that the house is no longer habitalble, but the owner is insistant in retaining easement rights ?
JA: OK. The Real Estate Lawyer will need to help you with this. Because laws vary from state to state, could you tell me what state is this in?
Customer: Pulaski, Virginia
JA: Have you consulted a lawyer yet?
Customer: no, the issue just came up. I am looking into purchasing the property and I need the power line removed to cut down large trees. The water line is steel and most likely rusted out.
JA: Is there anything else the Real Estate Lawyer should be aware of?
Customer: The easement was probably given by gentlemens agreement in the late 20's or early 30's. I would guess it was given at that time because of convienence that is no longer needed.
JA: OK. Got it. I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the $5 fully-refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Real Estate Lawyer about your situation and then connect you two.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Dear Customer,

Thank you for using our forum. My name is ***** ***** I hope to assist you today.

While you can possibly negotiate for the temporary removal of the existing lines and pipes, the only way to actually terminate an easement is with the agreement of the other property owner (the legal term for the parcel that benefits from the easement is the "dominant parcel" while the parcel that has the easement crossing it is the "servient parcel").

The facts that the easement is both very old, and apparently not currently in use are not going to negate or invalidate the actual easement itself, and the dominant parcel is going to retain that right. You can try to negotiate a settlement (purchase the easement back, for example), but you cannot unilaterally terminate it.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Again the current property owner has inherited this property from his grandparents will and the house has been abandoned for 15 years with absolutely no upkeep having been done to the house. The house does not meet town code therefore no one can live in the house. The utilities were granted simply because of necessity from the closest connection point. That is not necessarily true today. The owner realizes that the house would need to be torn down and a new one built farther back on the property with connection being more convenient to a closer point. To me there is no logical reason to demand these easements remain in place except to minimize my use of this property.
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Dear Customer,

I do understand that the conditions may have changed since the easement was first granted, but that does not create a basis to terminate the easement unilaterally.

You can negotiate a changed easement with the dominant parcel owner, but you cannot force them to extinguish the easement.