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Definition of Easement

An easement is an interest in the land of another that gives the owner of the easement the limited right to use another’s property or to prevent the property owner’s use of his or her property. It is a nonpossessory restricted right to a specific use or activity on the land of another that is less than ownership but may be a permanent right or a right for a limited period of time.

Classification of Easements

Easements are classified as either appurtenant or in gross. An appurtenant easement creates either a right to use, or a right to restrict the use of, the servient tenement for the use and benefit of real property of the easement owner. The property benefited is called the “dominant tenement.”

Examples of Easements That Are Appurtenant

The Civil Code lists the following easements that can be appurtenant: (1) Having a right of way; (2) Having the rights of pasture, fishing, and taking game; (3) Taking water, wood, minerals, and other things; (4) Transacting business upon land; (5) Conducting lawful sports upon land; (6) Receiving air, light, or heat from or over, or discharging the same on land; (7) Receiving sunlight on or over the land of another for any solar energy system; (8) Flooding land; (9) Having water flow without diminution or disturbance,18 such as an easement to discharge surface waters onto the land of a neighbor other than by the natural flow; (10) Using a wall as a party wall; or a division fence; (11) Receiving more than natural support from adjacent land or things affixed thereto; (12) Having public conveyances stop, or precluding the same on land; (13) Having a seat in church; and (14) Having a right to burial.

Easement in Gross

An easement in gross is a personal right to use the land of another, and as such it is an interest in real property. The property burdened by an easement in gross is called the “servient tenement.” However, because the right does not benefit any particular parcel of property, there is no dominant tenement.

Examples of Easements in Gross

The Civil Code lists the following as easements that can be in gross: (1) Having a right of way or the right of pasture; (2) Fishing and taking game; (3) Having a seat in church; (4) Having a right to burial; (5) Taking rents and tolls; and (6) Taking water, wood, minerals, or other things.