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Green v. Lupo

    Brief Fact Summary. A couple sold a portion of their land and obtained a promise of an easement over a part of it. The other couple refused to formally grant the easement as promised.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. When the benefit runs with the land, it is attached to that particular parcel of land and is called an appurtenant easement.

    Facts. The Greens (Plaintiffs) owned a tract of land. The Lupos (Defendants) bought their parcel of land (the north tract) from Plaintiffs. While they were still paying for that land, Defendants requested a deed release to a small section of the north tract to allow financing for the construction of a home. Plaintiffs agreed in return for a promise of an easement along the north tract when Defendants eventually obtained title. The parties entered into a writing about the easement, but it did not state whether the easement was in gross or appurtenant. But when Defendants obtained title, they refused to grant the easement. Plaintiffs brought an action for specific performance.

    Issue. When an easement is granted for the purposes of ingress, egress and utility, will that be evidence of intent to create an appurtenant easement?

    Held. Yes. Judgment reversed and remanded.
    The intention of the parties must be constructed from the instrument which created the easement. When the language is ambiguous, the court may consider the situation involving the property and the parties, the surrounding circumstances at the time the instrument was executed, and the practical construction of the instrument given by the parties, as proved by their conduct or admissions.
    The grant of an easement for ingress, egress and utilities to the owners of adjacent land is evidence of an intent that the easement benefit the grantees’ adjacent land, thereby being an easement appurtenant. Appurtenant easements follow possession of the dominant estate through successive transfers. The rule applies even when the dominant estate is subdivided into parcels, with each parcel continuing to enjoy the use of the servient tenement.
    Easement appurtenants are assignable to future owners of that property.

    Discussion. Appurtenant easements can only be enforced by the person who owns the dominant estate, and so cannot be sold separately from the land.


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