Owning Property Subject To An Easement May Include an Obligation to Sign Legal Documents for the Easement Holder

by Best Best & Krieger LLP

Court Imposed a “Rule of Reasonableness and Mutual Accommodation” on Neighboring Property Owners

Owning real property that is subject to an easement may include an obligation to sign land use or building permit applications or other documents necessary for the owner of the land benefitted by the easement to use his or her land. The California Court of Appeal recently decided the case of Dolnikov v. Ekizian, in which the court determined that the owner of land burdened by an access easement benefitting neighboring property unreasonably interfered with the neighbor’s use of the easement by refusing to sign documents required by the city’s building department for construction of houses on the neighboring property and improvement of the surface of the easement for access to the neighboring property.

The court imposed a “rule of reasonableness and mutual accommodation” on neighboring property owners in dealing with each other. Unfortunately, reasonableness can often be a difficult standard for neighbors to satisfy. The court acknowledged that reasonableness depends on the facts and circumstances of each case, and whether or not a particular action by a property owner is an unreasonable interference with a neighbor’s easement is a question of fact for a jury. The underlying lesson, though, is that neighbors need to be reasonable in their dealings with each other.

Dolnikov acquired two properties that were benefitted by an access easement over neighboring land. Then, she applied for and obtained permits from the City of Los Angeles to build two single-family residences on her properties and improve the access easement on the neighboring property to provide access to the new homes. She also obtained a community driveway agreement from the owner of the neighboring property burdened by the access easement. During construction of the homes by Dolnikov, the neighboring property that was subject to the access easement was sold to Ekizian with disclosure of Dolnikov’s easement rights over the property and existing construction project. When the city required Dolnikov to get the signature of Ekizian on a community driveway agreement and retaining wall permit to maintain her building permits and obtain city certificates of occupancy for the two houses that Dolnikov was building on her property, Ekizian refused to sign the documents and claimed that Dolnikov did not have the right to enter his property to improve the easement area. There was also evidence that Ekizian was trying to extort money from Dolnikov before he would sign the required documents.

The  court found that Ekizian’s refusal to sign the community driveway agreement and retaining wall permit required by the city rendered Dolnikov’s easement utterly useless for its intended purpose (access to her property) and a complete obstruction of the access easement. Dolnikov recovered substantial damages against Ekizian and a court order requiring Ekizian to sign the community driveway agreement and retaining wall permit required by the city.

Written by:

Best Best & Krieger LLP

Best Best & Krieger LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.