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Granite Properties Limited Partnership v. Manns

    Brief Fact Summary. The landowners of two adjoining tracts of land dispute the use of two driveways that exist on one of the properties.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. An easement implied from a preexisting use is established by three elements: (1) common ownership of the claimed dominant and servient parcels and a subsequent conveyance or transfer separating that ownership; (2) before the conveyance or transfer severing the unity of title, the common owner used part of the united parcel for the benefit of another part, and this use was apparent and obvious, continuous, and permanent; (3) the claimed easement is necessary and beneficial to the enjoyment of the parcel conveyed or retained by the grantor or transferor.

    Facts. At one point, Granite Properties (Plaintiff) owned all the properties in question. Parcel B was conveyed to Larry and Ann Manns (Defendant) by warranty deed. Plaintiff currently owns Parcels A and E. Parcel A is a shopping center and Parcel E has an apartment complex on it. Both A and E were developed prior to the sale of Parcel B. To gain access to the shopping center to make large deliveries, vehicles use a driveway on Parcel B, which is the first claimed easement. The other claimed easement is a driveway that cuts over Parcel B to the apartment complex on Parcel E. Defendant was aware of the two driveways at the time of purchase.

    Issue. After real property has been sold, can the original owner continue to use a portion of the sold property, even if there is no express contract to create an easement?

    Held. Yes. Judgment affirmed.
    An easement implied from a prior existing use is often referred to as a quasi-easement. It arises when an owner of an entire tract of land or of two or more adjoining parcels uses a part of one parcel for the apparent, continuous, and permanent benefit of another part, and then sells a part of the property without mentioning the incidental uses.
    An easement implied by preexisting use is established when: (1) there was common ownership of the claimed dominant and servient parcels and a subsequent conveyance or transfer separating that ownership; (2) before the conveyance or transfer severing the unity of title, the common owner used part of the united parcel for the benefit of another part, and this use was apparent and obvious, continuous, and permanent; (3) the claimed easement is necessary and beneficial to the enjoyment of the parcel conveyed or retained by the grantor or transferor.
    Easements created by implication arise as an inference of the intention of the parties when land is conveyed. Courts find particular facts suggestive of intent on the part of the parties, including proof of the prior use, which is evidence that the parties probably intended an easement, on the presumption that the grantor and grantee would have intended to continue an important or necessary use of the land known to them that was apparently continuous and permanent in its nature.
    The Restatement of Property Section: 474 (1944) gives eight factors from which the inference of intention may be drawn: whether the claimant is the conveyor or the conveyee; the terms of the conveyance; the consideration given for it; whether the claim is made against a simultaneous conveyance; the extent of necessity of the easement; whether reciprocal benefits result to the conveyor and the conveyee; the manner in which the land was used prior to its conveyance; and the extent to which the manner of prior use was or might have been known to the parties.
    Here, there was strong evidence of Plaintiff’s prior use of the driveways and Defendant’s prior knowledge of the use, so the necessity requirement is filled. The Defendant knew the use of the driveways was important to the enjoyment of the parcel.

    Discussion. An implied easement effectuates the intent of the parties that was never written down. For easements implied from prior use, absolute necessity is not required for the easement to be recognized.


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