What is an Easement?

An Easement is the right to use real property owned by another person for a specific and limited use.

how are easements created?

Easements are created by several methods but they fall into two categories; “express” by an act or by “prescriptive” use of the easement.

1. Express Easement– An express easement is created by deed, contract, or other written agreement. Express easements are the fastest and most cost-effective way to establish access to a property.

2. Prescriptive Easement– Prescriptive easements are created through the circumstances and facts surrounding the use of land which indicates the parties intended for it to exist. This is why prescriptive easements are also known as “implied easements”. They are implied easements after a dominant estate has used the servient estate’s property in a continuous, uninterrupted and open manner for more than 10 years. There is not an official contract or written agreement for prescriptive easements.

Arizona law (A.R.S. § 33-2401) recognizes easements that may be requested by a landlocked owner who is surrounded by land owned by the state (of Arizona) or any political subdivision of the state, and states that “Notwithstanding any other law, reasonable access to private property shall not be denied by this state or any political subdivision of this state.”

Arizona law (A.R.S. § 12-1202) also recognizes a private landlocked landowner’s right to seek an easement from a neighboring landowner upon a showing of “reasonable necessity.”

types of easements

Right-of-Way Easement. A right-of-way easement is a legal right that allows someone to travel through or use a specific portion of another person’s property. It provides access across someone’s land for a particular purpose, such as reaching a public road, accessing a neighboring property, or accessing utilities or services. The dominant estate (the property benefiting from the easement) has the right to pass over the servient estate (the property subject to the easement) without interference. Right-of-way easements are typically established through a written agreement, deed, or court order.

Key Features of a Right of Way Easement
a. It grants the right to pass over or use a specific part of the property.
b. It is often used for access purposes, such as roads, driveways, or pathways.
c. It may be exclusive (only the holder of the easement can use it) or non-exclusive (multiple parties can benefit from the easement).
d. The easement holder usually has the duty to maintain and repair the portion of the property subject to the easement.
e. The right of way may be limited to specific hours or purposes, depending on the agreement.

Ingress-Egress Easement. An ingress/egress easement, also known as an access easement, is a type of easement that specifically grants the right to enter or exit a property through another person’s land. It allows a property owner or occupant to access their property by passing over a neighboring property. Ingress refers to the right to enter the property, while egress refers to the right to exit the property.

Key Features of an Ingress-Egress Easement
a. It grants the right to enter and exit a property.
b. It is often used when there is no direct access to a public road or when an alternative access route is more convenient.
c. The easement holder typically has the right to use the access route but may not have the right to use the rest of the servient estate.
d. The easement may specify the type of vehicles or equipment that can use the access route.
e. Maintenance and repair responsibilities may vary depending on the agreement.

Both the right-of-way easements and ingress-egress easements grant certain rights to individuals or entities regarding the use of someone else’s property. While there may be some overlap in their application, the easements types serve different purposes and have distinct characteristics. In comparison, a right-of-way easement provides a broader right to pass through or use a specific part of someone’s property, while an ingress-egress easement specifically grants the right to enter and exit a property through a neighboring property.

terminating an easement

Easements Can Be Terminated or Abandoned in 5 Basic Methods.

1. Termination by Expiration: Easements can be terminated by the expiration of an agreed upon time event. For example, there could have been an agreement that an easement will last 10 years at which time it will automatically terminate.

2. Termination by Agreement: This happens when the property owner expressly conveys an easement back to the grantor. For example, if Simon owns an easement over Garfunkel’s land, and Garfunkel requests that Simon release the easement, Simon may then execute the termination agreement and convey the easement back to Garfunkel.

3. Abandonment of an Easement: Easements can be terminated when the owner abandons her right to it. Usually, mere nonuse of an easement is not enough to qualify for termination. The owner must make a clear, unequivocal, decisive act to abandon the easement. For this reason, a Notice of Abandonment of Easement should be prepared and recorded with the county recorder.

4. Termination by Decision: A decisive act to abandon an easement could include creating a new alternate road to enter the property or installing fencing or a wall or some other time of barrier across the easement.

5. Termination by Merger of the Dominant and Servient Properties: Easements can be terminated by a merger of the dominant and servient properties. Under the doctrine of merger, if one party acquires the property subject to and benefited by an easement. The easement will have been said to merge with the other rights held by the owner.

Frequently, adjacent properties have an easement between them, allowing one or both parties access to the other. One is the servient property, and the property that benefits from the easement is the dominant property. In this case, you have an appurtenant easement. If one owner acquired both properties and combined them into one legal description, the easement would no longer be necessary. The two properties have merged. This makes sense, because an easement is the right to cross over the property belonging to another person. However, if you own the land, the easement will merge into the land because it is not necessary to have permission to cross your own property.

landlocked properties in arizona

In Arizona, it’s not unheard of for a piece of property in an isolated and undeveloped area to not have legal access to the property. Meaning there is not an Express easement or Prescriptive easement.

A landlocked owner has several options. If the seller of the Arizona property sold a portion of her land without a formal access roadway, then Arizona law implies in the sale of the property an easement across the seller’s remaining property for access–and utilities. If the seller of the land refuses, the landlocked owner can ask a court to enter an order compelling the seller to grant an easement. Because Arizona law generally presumes that transfer of real property includes by implication that there is a way the property can be accessed and used.

Private Condemnation of Properties. A landlocked property in Arizona may be able to file a “private condemnation” lawsuit, where the landlocked owner can ask a court for just enough of the neighboring property to build and maintain a roadway in order to access the property. The landlocked owner must prove that there is no sufficient alternative access to the property. As in public condemnation, private condemnation requires compensation to the owner of the property being taken.

Conclusion

Understanding easements can be very confusing, if you have questions then contact the Dunaway Law Group at 480-702-1610 or by sending us a message HERE.

* The information provided is informational only, does not constitute legal advice, and will not create an attorney-client or attorney-prospective client relationship. Additionally, the Dunaway Law Group, PLC limits its practice to the states of Arizona and New York.

How to Transfer Title to Land

This blog post touches on a few different scenarios of the same topic but the

how do you transfer real estate from the name of a deceased person?

If a real property is held in the name of one person, and that person dies, how do you transfer the deed to the name of a new person?

quit claim real estate in arizona

To quitclaim real estate means to transfer your interest or ownership in the property to a third-party without making any guarantees or warranties about the property’s title.

In other words, a quitclaim deed transfers whatever interest or title the grantor (the person transferring the property) has in the property to the grantee (the person receiving the property), but does not make any promises or guarantees about the title’s validity or any outstanding liens or encumbrances on the property.

This type of deed is often used in situations where the grantor is not making any monetary or other consideration for the transfer, such as transferring property between family members, or to clear up any potential disputes over ownership. It’s important to note that a quitclaim deed does not provide any protection to the grantee, and they will assume any risks or legal issues related to the property’s ownership after the transfer.

how to transfer the title if it had been held in a trust and the trustee has passed away?

If a real property is held in a trust and the trustee dies. How do you change the name on the deed?

  • Affidavit of Death of Joint Tenant– In a Joint Tenant in a Right of Survivorship.
    • Record the Affidavit . Automatically becomes the sole owner of the property.

what if one of the trustees is still living?

If the real property is held as Community Property or as Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship then when on of the property owner dies, their ownership portion is automatically transferred to the person still living.

Many people who are the survivors of the real property that is held as Community Property or as Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship want the deed to be changed to reflect that they now own the real property as a single person.

If you have questions about changing the name on an Arizona deed then contact the Arizona real estate attorneys at the Dunaway Law Group at 480-389-6529 or message us HERE.

how to rename a deed if a person changed their name

It is quite common for woman to take the last name of their husband when their are married, how can you change the name of the property into the spouse’s new name?

Affidavit of Name Change

*** IT IS IMPORTANT TO TAKE NOTE THAT THIS BLOG POST APPLIES ONLY TO REAL PROPERTIES IN ARIZONA. ***
*** AS A COMMUNITY PROPERTY STATE ARIZONA HAS VERY UNIQUE LAWS WHEN IT COMES TO REAL PROPERTY OWNERSHIP ***

Improperly Recorded Documents

In Arizona, there are no real protections that prevent someone from recording fraudulent documents with a county recorder. A person can literally quit claim the Arizona State Capital building to themselves and the county will record it. The recorder’s office does not have the ability or duty to confirm that the documents are legitimate. Obviously this can cause real problems!

There are multiple occasions where I’ve had a client come into my office panicked because some type of fraudulent document had been recorded involving one of their properties. I’ve seen cases where easements were added without the owner’s knowledge or permission. Plus, I’ve seen parcels split or property completely transferred to another person!!!

WHAT CAN YOU DO IF SOMEONE RECORDS A FRAUDULENT DOCUMENT?

Arizona law will not prevent someone from wrongfully recording documents with the county, however, state law provides for severe punishment against those who do.

Under A.R.S. § 33-420(C), provides penalties against anyone who wrongly records a document. If found guilty, the court can award a minimum penalty of $5,000, or treble damages for the actual financial harm, and attorney’s fees.

A.R.S. § 33-420(A) states:

A. A person purporting to claim an interest in, or a lien or encumbrance against, real property, who causes a document asserting such claim to be recorded in the office of the county recorder, knowing or having reason to know that the document is forged, groundless, contains a material misstatement or false claim or is otherwise invalid is liable to the owner or beneficial title holder of the real property for the sum of not less than five thousand dollars, or for treble the actual damages caused by the recording, whichever is greater, and reasonable attorney fees and costs of the action.

A.R.S. 33-420(A)

B. The owner or beneficial title holder of the real property may bring an action pursuant to this section in the superior court in the county in which the real property is located for such relief as is required to immediately clear title to the real property as provided for in the rules of procedure for special actions. This special action may be brought based on the ground that the lien is forged, groundless, contains a material misstatement or false claim or is otherwise invalid. The owner or beneficial title holder may bring a separate special action to clear title to the real property or join such action with an action for damages as described in this section. In either case, the owner or beneficial title holder may recover reasonable attorney fees and costs of the action if he prevails.

A.R.S. 33-420(B)

C. A person who is named in a document which purports to create an interest in, or a lien or encumbrance against, real property and who knows that the document is forged, groundless, contains a material misstatement or false claim or is otherwise invalid shall be liable to the owner or title holder for the sum of not less than one thousand dollars, or for treble actual damages, whichever is greater, and reasonable attorney fees and costs as provided in this section, if he willfully refuses to release or correct such document of record within twenty days from the date of a written request from the owner or beneficial title holder of the real property.

A.R.S. 33-420(C)

D. A document purporting to create an interest in, or a lien or encumbrance against, real property not authorized by statute, judgment or other specific legal authority is presumed to be groundless and invalid.

A.R.S. 33-420(D)

E. A person purporting to claim an interest in, or a lien or encumbrance against, real property, who causes a document asserting such claim to be recorded in the office of the county recorder, knowing or having reason to know that the document is forged, groundless, contains a material misstatement or false claim or is otherwise invalid is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.

A.R.S. 33-420(E)

How to Remove an Invalid Lien

Occasionally, I am approached by clients who believe someone has recorded an invalid lien against their property and want to know what they can do to remove it.

A.R.S. 33-420: Discusses the issue of removing groundless or fraudulent liens that have been recorded with the county.

A.R.S. 33-420(A): Provides a property owner at least $5000, or treble the actual damages caused by the recording of forged, groundless, misstated, or contains false claims.

A.R.S. 33-420(C): Provides the property owner $1000, or treble actual damages, whichever is greater, and attorney fees and costs, if he willfully refuses to release or correct such document of record within 20-days from the date of a written request from the owner or beneficial title holder of the real property.

If you need help from an experienced shared well attorney, then contact the Dunaway Law Group at 480-702-1608 or message us HERE.

* The information provided is informational only, does not constitute legal advice, and will not create an attorney-client or attorney-prospective client relationship. Additionally, the Dunaway Law Group, PLC limits its practice to the states of Arizona and New York.

Evictions and Ownership Disputes

Arizona law is clear that eviction cases are designed to address the issue of possession and not the issue of property ownership. The limited scope of a forcible entry and detainer action has been strictly defined by Arizona statute. A.R.S. § 12-1177(A) states in relevant part:

On the trial of an action of Forcible Entry or Forcible Detainer, the only issue shall be the right of actual possession and the merits of title shall not be inquired into.

A.R.S. 12-1177(A)

Evidence offered to the Arizona Superior Court showing anything other than who is entitled to possess the property will be excluded from an eviction hearing. This means that a defendant-tenant who claims ownership of the rental property must file a quiet title action and not raise the issue during an eviction hearing.

Proof of property Ownership 

The Arizona Superior Court’s inquiry into property ownership is limited to the extent that Plaintiff holds title to the property in dispute. If the Plaintiff – Arizona Landlord’s name appears on the trustee’s deed then the Court should not inquire into ownership any further.

The issuance of the Trustee’s Deed to Plaintiff is conclusive evidence that all statutory requirements for the Trustee’s Sale were satisfied and that Plaintiff has the right to possession of the Property.

A.R.S. § 33-811(B) further provides:

…the Trustee’s deed shall raise the presumption of compliance with the requirements of this chapter relating to the exercise of the power of sale and the sale of the trust property, including recording, mailing, publishing, and posting of the notice of sale and the conduct of the sale.

eviction cases are summary remedies

Arizona courts have held that litigation as to the validity of title “would convert a forcible detainer action into a quiet title action and defeat its purpose as a summary remedy.” Curtis v. Morris, 186 Ariz. 534, 535, 925 P.2d 259, 260 (1996).

For example, in Merrifield v. Merrifield, 95 Ariz. 152, 154, 388 P.2d 153, 155 (1963), the plaintiff held title to property pursuant to quitclaim deed which was valid on its face. The lower court nonetheless inquired into the merits of that title and refused to find the defendant guilty of forcible entry and detainer. The Arizona Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s ruling because plaintiff was entitled to possession as the title holder and pursuant to A.R.S. § 12-1177, the trial court was prohibited from considering the merits of the plaintiff’s title. Accordingly, any evidence offered by Defendants to raise extrinsic issues or disprove Plaintiff’s title must be excluded.

In another case demonstrating the Superior Courts inability to inquire into ownership in a forcible detainer (see Olds Bros. Lumber Co. v. Rushing, 64 Ariz. 199, 167 P.2d 394 (1946), the Arizona Supreme Court stated: “[T]he statutes of this state make that very plain and indicate quite clearly that the right to actual possession is the only issue to be determined in such an action.” Id. at 204, 397. The court also discussed the legislative intent in limiting the scope of a forcible entry and detainer action stating:

The object of a forcible entry and detainer action is to afford a summary, speedy and adequate remedy for obtaining possession of premises withheld by tenants, and for this reason this objective would be entirely frustrated if the defendant were permitted to deny his landlord’s title, or to interpose customary and usual defenses permissible in the ordinary action at law. And for the same reason, the merits of the title may not be inquired into in such an action, for if the merits of the title and other defenses above enumerated were permitted and the court heard testimony concerning them, then other and secondary issues would be presented to the court and the action would not afford a summary, speedy and adequate remedy for obtaining possession of the premises.

Olds Bros. Lumber Co. v. Rushing, 64 Ariz. 199, 167 P.2d 394 (1946))

Id. at 204-05, 397. Because the trustee’s deed is conclusive evidence of Plaintiff’s title under A.R.S. § 33-811(B), and because the court is prohibited from inquiring into the merits of that title under A.R.S. § 12-1177(A), judgment must be rendered in favor of Plaintiff regardless of any defense of ownership the Defendants may raise.

Ownership Disputes in the Justice Court

The ownership of property and their interaction with evictions can become very complex. The above article discusses issues of ownership disputes and evictions in the Superior Court, however, the rules that apply to ownership disputes and evictions in the Justice Court (where most evictions take place) are completely different.

A.R.S. § 22-201(D) addresses this issue:

Justices of the peace have jurisdiction to try the right to possession of real property when title or ownership is not a
subject of inquiry in the action. If in any such action the title or
ownership of real property becomes an issue, the justice shall so
certify in the court record, at once stop further proceedings
in the action and forward all papers together with a certified copy of
the court record in the action to the Superior Court, where the action
shall be docketed and determined as though originally brought in the
Superior Court.

A.R.S. § 22-201(D)

A.R.S. § 22-201(F) adds further clarification:

In actions between landlord and tenant for possession of leased premises, the title to the property leased shall not be raised nor made an issue.

A.R.S. § 22-201(F)

For help with your Arizona landlord – tenant matters contact the Dunaway Law Group at 480-389-6529 or message us HERE.

* The information provided is informational only, does not constitute legal advice, and will not create an attorney-client or attorney-prospective client relationship. Additionally, the Dunaway Law Group, PLC limits its practice to the State of Arizona.

Partitioning Real Estate

Partitioning Arizona real estate is a way to resolve a situation where two people who own real estate together but disagree about whether to sell the property and or how to manage it. I typically see this scenario where a boyfriend-girlfriend purchased a home together and then later have a falling-out.

In this situation they are both equal owners, so can one of the parties force the other to sell even if they don’t want to? Yes! There is an Arizona Statute that specifically addresses what to do in these situations.

A.R.S. § 12-1211 states:

A. The owner or claimant of real property or any interest therein may compel a partition of the property between him and the owners or claimants by filing a complaint in the superior court of the county in which the property, or a portion thereof, is situated.

B. The complaint shall state: (1) The names and residences, if known, of each of the owners or claimants. (2) The share or interest which plaintiff and the owners or claimants own or claim, so far as known to plaintiff. (3) A description of the real property to identify it and its estimated value. 

A.R.S. 12-1211

Once the Arizona real estate is sold the net proceeds will be distributed between the owners. If you need an Arizona real estate attorney then contact the Dunaway Law Group at 480-389-6529 or message us HERE.

These blog posts are not intended nor shall they be deemed to be the rendering of legal advice. Reading these blog posts does not create an attorney-client relationship, nor shall it impose an obligation on the part of the attorney to respond to further inquiry.