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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 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 An oral license can be withdrawn by the grantor at any time, so if this was just an oral license or permission, you can take it away now, if you like.


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