Legal Question in Real Estate Law in California

easements and gates

we own 56 acres of land that we access thru a recorded easement with our neighbor.18 months ago our neighbor erected a gate without discussing it with us.we have owned since 1990.She said she was to put in a elec. gate.We objected to the gate and told her that she can not block our ingress and egress.

We offered to move the gate 40 away,pay for the wire that we would not have to get in and out to open a gate.she said she had a right to put a gate on her property line.We did however,open and close the gate up until the first of this year.She was away for 3 weeks and we left the gate open.When she got back we told her it was time to install the elec gate and that we would no longer open and close the gate as she had blocked our entry to our land long enough.Now she says she is going to get a survey and where the property line criscrosses our easement she will install more gates.And,that she is getting a lawyer to force us close gates,and to pay for half of the survey, many many thousands of $.We have tried talking and she will not accept anything we say.Is there Ca.code that I can refer to?And any more advise you can give would be great.

Asked on 3/21/06, 3:48 pm

3 Answers from Attorneys

Joel Selik

Re: easements and gates

If it is as I suspect, then they may not put up gate and may not block your ingress/egress. Not stopping it 18 months ago is a problem and you should take aggressive action now.


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Answered on 3/21/06, 4:11 pm
Roy Hoffman Law Offices of Roy A. Hoffman

Re: easements and gates

If you have a recorded easement, the adjoining landowner cannot block your ingress and egress legally. You need to speak to an attorney who practices real estate and real estate litigation in your area.

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Answered on 3/21/06, 5:00 pm
Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law

Re: easements and gates

OK, here's an answer from a real estate attorney in your area (I'm in West Marin, clients as far north as Willits). The leading treatise on easements says "Attempts by a servient estate owner (e.g., your neighbor) to place gates across an easement for passage over his land have produced a great deal of controversy. Whether the erection of a gate constitutes an unreasonable interference with the easement holder's enjoyment of the easement depends upon the facts of each situation, and courts have declined to set hard and fast rules. Obviously, any gate is inconvenient for an easement holder who must open and close it, but the test is one of reasonableness. In resolving this question, courts weigh various factors, including the manner in which the servient property has been used, the need for a gate, the number and nature of gates, the location of the gates, and the terms of the grant or the method by which the holder gained the easement." Bruce & Ely, The Law of Easements and Licenses in Land.

Consistent with the foregoing, the legislature has left gate-across-easement issues to the courts; there are no statutes to cite.

Since your parcel is 56 acres and you're in an area where livestock is kept by some owners, I should point out that courts tend to allow gates where a property is otherwise fully fenced for keeping stock in (or out). If it's only crops or woodlands, you would probably win.

Call or e-mail if you'd like to discuss further.

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Answered on 3/21/06, 6:47 pm

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