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  1. #1
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    Default When Is an Easement Extinguished by Merger of Adjoining Properties

    My question involves real estate located in the State of: New York, Suffolk County.

    Merged Abandonment?

    I am the owner of a property here called property (A) that has a 20 foot easement to a back property here called property (B). Property B is a flag lot and was given easement from property A and was their only access. My neighbor to my south is here called property (C) and is a large property. Property C is also the neighboring property B on both the south and the west boundary lines. Property C recently bought property B wherein property B is then merged with property C. My question, is the easement abandoned and therefore void since property B is now part of property C and has access other than through property A?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Easement Abandoment by Merger of Ajoining Properties

    Quote Quoting Mike Cappy
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    My question involves real estate located in the State of: New York, Suffolk County.

    Merged Abandonment?

    I am the owner of a property here called property (A) that has a 20 foot easement to a back property here called property (B). Property B is a flag lot and was given easement from property A and was their only access. My neighbor to my south is here called property (C) and is a large property. Property C is also the neighboring property B on both the south and the west boundary lines. Property C recently bought property B wherein property B is then merged with property C. My question, is the easement abandoned and therefore void since property B is now part of property C and has access other than through property A?
    Possibly...local law would apply and I would think that a local real estate attorney would be a better person to consult.

  3. #3
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    Nov 2013
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    Default Re: Easement Abandoment by Merger of Ajoining Properties

    Quote Quoting Mike Cappy
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    My question involves real estate located in the State of: New York, Suffolk County.

    Merged Abandonment?

    I am the owner of a property here called property (A) that has a 20 foot easement to a back property here called property (B). Property B is a flag lot and was given easement from property A and was their only access. My neighbor to my south is here called property (C) and is a large property. Property C is also the neighboring property B on both the south and the west boundary lines. Property C recently bought property B wherein property B is then merged with property C. My question, is the easement abandoned and therefore void since property B is now part of property C and has access other than through property A?
    You are speaking about two different doctrines of easement law. One is merger and the other is abandonment. There is no such thing as merged abandonment.

    Let's take merger first. Merger will extinguish an easement if the servient and dominant estates merge together. In your case, you are the servient estate and property B is the dominant estate. So if your property merged with B, the easement would be extinguished. But that is not what happened. Property B merged with property C so there is no extinguishment of the easement. The easement remains even though property B has another means of ingress and egress.

    As for abandonment, there are basically two ways an easement can be abandoned. The first is when the dominant estate takes an action that indicates that they no longer want the easement rights that were granted. Such action might be to build a wall across there property where the easement meets the property or to put up a building on their property rendering the easement useless. Non-use of an easement does not in of itself cause an abandonment. In a case for abandonment, a court must decide if the dominant estate has abandoned the easement.

    The second way a dominant estate can abandon an easement is by agreement with the servient estate. If both estates are in agreement, then a document is drawn up (preferably by an attorney), it is signed by both parties, and recorded with the registrar of deeds in the county where the properties are located.

    Quote Quoting llworking
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    Possibly...local law would apply and I would think that a local real estate attorney would be a better person to consult.
    Local law has nothing to do with easement law. It is controlled by state statutes and the common law.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Easement Abandoment by Merger of Ajoining Properties

    My question, is the easement abandoned and therefore void since property B is now part of property C and has access other than through property A?
    There is not enough information posted so far as to provide an answer.

    Try to post up a map of the situation and the granting language of all of the easements.

  5. #5
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    Nov 2013
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    Default Re: Easement Abandoment by Merger of Ajoining Properties

    A flag lot doesn't usually have/need and easement. Or is "B" a landlocked parcel with an access easement thru "A". Were A, B, and C once part of the same larger parcel? Have B and C been legally merged?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Easement Abandoment by Merger of Ajoining Properties

    Quote Quoting gisguy
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    There is not enough information posted so far as to provide an answer.

    Try to post up a map of the situation and the granting language of all of the easements.
    What information do you think is missing to answer his question? His post is very clear.

    Quote Quoting Catmad
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    A flag lot doesn't usually have/need and easement. Or is "B" a landlocked parcel with an access easement thru "A". Were A, B, and C once part of the same larger parcel? Have B and C been legally merged?
    Property B uses the easement on Property A for ingress and egress. I believe OP is only describing property B as a flag lot because of the shape of the property including the easement. You are correct that a true flag lot would not be using an easement for access.

    Your question about whether A, B, and C were once a single parcel is really irrelevant in this instance . We are dealing with merger and not separation of title. What relevance do you think there is to this question?

    In New York (as well as other state) local jurisdiction zoning ordinances require a substandard lot or lots (that are contiguous) to merge as an operation of law when they come under common ownership. This can happen unbeknownst to the owner, and may not be discovered until after one of the lots is conveyed to a third party, resulting in an illegal subdivision. Even if the lots are not substandard they will merge if under common ownership.

    Here is an example of a zoning ordinance from the Town of Huntington in Suffolk County, NY:

    (A) Lots shall be merged by operation of law when a nonconforming parcel of land created before January 1, 1980 and an adjacent parcel are under common ownership; or, when any parcel of land is used, in whole or in part, for the benefit of an adjacent parcel having common ownership.

    (B)Effect of merger. The merger or consolidation of two or more formerly separate, adjacent parcels under common ownership shall form one larger parcel for all purposes, and may only be subdivided by approval of the Planning Board, whether or not the lot lines of the proposed subdivision follow along the lot lines of the former smaller parcels.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Easement Abandoment by Merger of Ajoining Properties

    Actually, what we don't have is the precise wording of the easement and how it came to pass. All the posts above assume it was a simple granted easement from A to B. If he wants to know for sure, he should contact a local real estate lawyer who can look at the deeds and whatever laws/ordinances are in play. But in the common case, bud is correct.

    The other thing not well stated is whether lots B and C are actually merged. Just because the same person owns both and treats them like he has one big lot doesn't make them a single merged parcel. He (or a successor) may sell off B seperate from C again.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Easement Abandoment by Merger of Ajoining Properties

    Quote Quoting flyingron
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    The other thing not well stated is whether lots B and C are actually merged. Just because the same person owns both and treats them like he has one big lot doesn't make them a single merged parcel. He (or a successor) may sell off B seperate from C again.
    Merger in my example above is an operation of law. The lots merge if title to both properties are in the same person.

    (A) Lots shall be merged by operation of law when a nonconforming parcel of land created before January 1, 1980 and an adjacent parcel are under common ownership; or, when any parcel of land is used, in whole or in part, for the benefit of an adjacent parcel having common ownership.

    (B)Effect of merger. The merger or consolidation of two or more formerly separate, adjacent parcels under common ownership shall form one larger parcel for all purposes, and may only be subdivided by approval of the Planning Board, whether or not the lot lines of the proposed subdivision follow along the lot lines of the former smaller parcels.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Easement Abandoment by Merger of Ajoining Properties

    That clause only applies when one of the properties is a nonconforming parcel. It gets subsumed by law when owned in common with an adjacent parcel. If the parcel is a properly conforming parcel, it doesn't magically get merged in with the neighbor, even if they are owned by the same person.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Easement Abandoment by Merger of Ajoining Properties

    Did your read B. It doesn't matter if the lots are non-conforming or not contiguous lot merge under common ownership

    Granted, we don't have all the facts. But given that it is Suffolk County and there is an easement to a back lot, my money is on a non-conforming lot.

    The point is that lots merge as an operation of law. It has nothing to do with the property owner merging the lots or not.

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