Can an easement be transferred by the grantee without the grantor’s knowledge?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can an easement be transferred by the grantee without the grantor’s knowledge?

We live on 4 acres of rural property. Our property is connected to the highway by a 25′ strip of land which is covered by olive trees. This was not disclosed to us at the time of purchase 17 years ago. A survey by one of our neighbors showed that the gravel road we assumed was ours, was not. It is the only access to our property. We traded easements with the orchard owner 10 years ago. Now we

have reason to believe that they are no longer involved in the farming operation which includes the olive trees on our property. During this year’s harvest, the area between the trees was used for parking and storage of heavy equipment. How can we find out who is farming that strip and advise them they are encroaching on our property? Hope I have provided enough details. This is very complicated. I am 68, my husband is 72 and wheelchair bound. Their operation is blocking access to

our property by emergency vehicles.

Asked on December 5, 2017 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Was this truly an easement? Or just a license?
An easement is a modification to the deed or title. It goes with the property and does not depend on who owns it. So an easement on property A for property B to access part of it to get to the road, for example, may be used by *anyone* owning property B. Easements are found on deeds.
A license is a contract between two people: it is personal to those people, and is not connected to the property. An agreement between 2 people as to property use and access which is not reflected in a change to a deed is a license. A written license (written agreement) can be transferred to another so long as the license does not say it is not transferrable or assignable. (If it does say that, however, that restriction is legal and enforceable.) An oral license can be withdrawn by the grantor at any time, so if this was just an oral license or permission, you can take it away now, if you like.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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