Who Pays for Maintenance When an Easement Is Jointly Owned?

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When you purchased your house a few years ago, you knew that an easement on the property allowed the neighbors to use a back alley on your lot to access their property. You and the neighbors actually are co-owners of the easement and your understanding was that you are both responsible for its maintenance.

Now the alley needs repaving and curb repair to maintain it in good condition. You approached the neighbors about your concerns and asked them to share the cost of the necessary upgrades. However, they don’t agree and have refused to bear any of the cost. Do you have any legal recourse to force them to share the financial burden?

The California Civil Code Section 845 establishes the following relating to maintenance of a jointly owned easement:

  • Joint owners of the property are equally responsible for maintenance of the easement.
  • If one owner will not pay his or her share, the other owner can bring legal action before, during or after the work is completed.
  • An owner can file legal action in a small claims court as long as the total cost of the maintenance work does not exceed the limits of this court. If it does, the matter may go to a superior court for resolution.
  • If there is no existing agreement between the owners regarding the performance of maintenance on the easement, the matter can be brought to the county in which the property is located.

Posted in Real Estate Law | Tagged easement, joint ownership, property law

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