Can a Property Owner Terminate or Block an Easement in Mississippi

If an entity is granted an easement under Mississippi real estate law, it has the non-possessory right to use another person’s land for a specific purpose. This may involve a portion of land or a larger area of the property.

The land usage rights covered under an easement are generally very limited, and the easement holder cannot expand or change these rights without the consent of the landowner.

As a landowner or property owner, you may be wondering what rights you have to terminate an easement if it has been granted for your property, and you want to challenge it.

Here’s what you need to know about easement law in Mississippi.

How are easements established in Mississippi?

Affirmative easements give the holder access or the right to enter or cross over an adjoining property. Negative easements are sometimes granted to prevent another party from accessing land or property.

There are three main ways that easements are established under Mississippi law:

An express easement is written down and is usually established by executing a deed or contract that identifies the specific location and dimensions of the easement, as well as the allowable use of the land.

Often, such easements are granted in a will or deed that must follow legal guidelines to be considered valid and enforceable by law.

An easement by prescription is given by adverse possession. It does not have the consent of the landowner. This is popularly known as “squatting” and such an easement is generally attained by continuous, adverse, hostile, notorious, or open use of another person’s land.

There is a six-point test that the entity requiring the easement must satisfy before the easement is granted in Mississippi. He or she must satisfy the following requirements for the land over which the easement is claimed:

  • Open, notorious, and visible use of the land
  • Hostile use of the land
  • Use of the land is under claim of ownership
  • Exclusive use of the land
  • Use of the land has been peaceful
  • Use of the easement has been continuous and uninterrupted for 10 years

If the use of the land is with the consent of the landowner, the courts will generally not grant an easement by prescription.

Under Mississippi easement law, easements by implication are also known as easements by necessity.

An easement is generally considered by implication or necessity because of a piece of land’s  “landlocked” and inaccessible nature, i.e.,  unless an easement is established the owner has no way to access his or her land. This often happens when a commonly owned piece of land is separated from a larger piece.

To be granted an easement by implication, the entity must prove entitlement to the land and that the easement is reasonably necessary for the use and enjoyment of the property.

Other ways to establish an easement in Mississippi

Another type of easement granted in Mississippi is a utility easement. This may be established to allow utilities and public entities to use a piece of land to perform certain actions necessary for the general public or other landowners, such as laying cables or sewer lines.

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Easement disputes in Mississippi

When easements are granted, each party must understand the specific rights and obligations attached to them or disputes can arise from misunderstandings.

Such disputes can involve allegations of misuse, encroachment, abandonment, or interference and, unless addressed, may end up in court.

Sometimes, these scenarios arise in Mississippi due to boundary disputes — especially after improvements are made to properties (for instance, a wall, fence, or driveway is constructed) and neighboring property owners are unhappy with certain aspects of the work.

Timely legal assistance can help prevent disputes from escalating and, if court intervention is required, a real estate lawyer can help you plead your case to a judge.

As a landowner, if an easement is established for your land, you will need to abide by the obligations outlined. These are normally quite limited and do not entitle the holder of the easement to sell the property or use it any way other than that specified, e.g., for right of way or travel.

In certain situations, you may be able to challenge the easement.

How can you terminate an easement in Mississippi?

You may be able to terminate an easement after a specified period stated at the time the easement is granted (limited duration easements).

So, an easement granted for two years will usually be terminated automatically at the expiration date. Construction work is a good example of when such an easement may be granted — when the construction work ends, the easement will be terminated.

However, permanent easements are common, especially in the case of easements expressed by deed. These can remain indefinitely and may not be easy to terminate.

If you want to terminate a permanent easement, you may be able to take action to do so in some circumstances. The following scenarios may result in an easement being terminated:

  • One owner buys out another: if the owner of the “dominant” estate buys out the “servient” estate subject to the easement, it can be terminated.
  • The easement holder releases the property owner: if the easement holder releases their easement interest in writing to the owner of the property, it can be terminated.
  • Abandonment of the easement: simple nonuse of the easement does not necessarily constitute abandonment but if it can be proven that the holder of the easement has abandoned their interest, the easement may be ended.
  • Condemnation of the easement: if a public authority condemns the easement, an existing easement interest may be terminated.

For easement issues in the Biloxi area of Mississippi, contact a commercial and residential real estate lawyer at Rushing & Guice, PLLC for legal advice and assistance.

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