Brief Fact Summary.
The Supreme Judicial Court of Maine determined that the owner of a servient estate who is subject to a right of way easement may not change the location of the easement without the mutual consent of both the dominant and servient estate owners.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
The owner of a servient estate who is subject to a right of way easement may not change the location of the easement without the mutual consent of both the dominant and servient estate owners.
It is a general rule of law that, in the absence of statute to the contrary, the location of an easement once selected, cannot be changed by either the landowner or the easement owner without the other's consent.View Full Point of Law
Bruk (Defendant) is subject to a right of way easement which is possessed by the Davises (Plaintiffs). The easement allows the plaintiffs to cross the defendant’s property in order to access the seashore and the road. The location of the easement has remained the same for nearly a century however, the land on the easement is beginning to deteriorate because of the flow of water across it. The Plaintiffs filed an injunction to have the road paved. The Defendant sought an injunction to have the easement moved since it was neighboring too close to his house. The Defendant even offered to cover the costs. The trial court ruled in favor of the Defendant and Plaintiffs appeal.
Whether the owner of a servient estate with whom is subject to a right of way easement, may relocate the easement?
No. An easement can only be changed through the consent of both parties unless the deed or statutory language says otherwise. The Court notes that this rule has been evident throughout history because it is based on the idea that an easement is a property right and property cannot be taken away unreasonably. The Court overturns the trial court’s ruling. However, the court notes the trial court was correct in deciding that the Plaintiff’s cannot pave the road without the permission of the Defendants.
The court emphasizes the important rules of law regarding property rights. It focusses on the idea that property cannot be taken away unreasonably nor can it be changed without the consent of the true owner of the property.