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  1. #1
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    Default I Wish to Terminate an Easement Attached to Our Title

    My question involves real estate located in the State of: California

    I am interested in the termination of an easement given to a utility company in our title by the 1st. owner, we are the 2nd. owner. The title & deed was purchased by us decades ago the original construction of the home was in the early 40's. We were never aware of the title given to the Utility company. In fact the easement was not included with our deed that I know of, so it came as a bit of a shock that they even had an easement. We knew the pole was there but had no idea when it was placed there and why until we inquired with the utility company.

    The utility company does not need to keep the archaic wooden pole as we have electric connections in the street and are on a busy street that actually feeds large apartment buildings across the small street. They have been persistent however in saying they did not want to have to pay to move the pole and are asking us to pay for removing it and hooking us up underground on the street. There are also poles nearby on side streets and in an alley they could be using instead of our pole. In addition the pole is leaning toward structures which they said wasn't a problem.

    They did send us the original permission of use of easement and the Plat map. Well we had it measured and the map appears to be incorrect in it's measurement as well. I am looking into seeing the original plat map as it appears to be updated recently? Which leads me to my next question if it was updated and there appear to be other pages of the plat map over the years which plat is correct?? Is it the plat congruent to the date of the original easement and can this peculiarity be used as a defense against the company? Hmm, I did want to avoid getting a survey done but if necessary I may well do that.

    Final question if I go with another energy company and ask them to just put our wires connections underground will it help my argument in getting this pole and its wire removed? I realize it is connecting to neighbors however they could be getting their power from the nearby pole instead of our yard, in fact the whole street should be underground as we have underground connections already in place they just don't want to pay for it. Would this be grounds for a "Quiet the Title "? OR.....


    Thanks guys for lending an ear to a newbie on this site.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: I Wish to Terminate an Easement Attached to Our Title

    The first step would be to contact the utility and see if they would consider abandoning the easement. Note that deeds don't typically specifically name encumberances that already exist. Understand your home title is not a single document (the deed granting it to you) but all the historical records of deeds and the like over time. Note that you might get them to remove an unnecessary pole, but the easement likely also covers the subterranean utility lines as well.

    The plat is probably only secondary to the description in the deed granting the easment (i.e., the person who prepared the plat did so based on the wording of that deed).

    A quiet title may be possible, but there's no way this is something we can explain to you over the internet. You're going to need a real estate attorney to do the proper research needed to make a cogent filing.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: I Wish to Terminate an Easement Attached to Our Title

    Quote Quoting Silasdogood
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    My question involves real estate located in the State of: California

    I am interested in the termination of an easement given to a utility company in our title by the 1st. owner, we are the 2nd. owner. The title & deed was purchased by us decades ago the original construction of the home was in the early 40's. We were never aware of the title given to the Utility company. In fact the easement was not included with our deed that I know of, so it came as a bit of a shock that they even had an easement. We knew the pole was there but had no idea when it was placed there and why until we inquired with the utility company.

    The utility company does not need to keep the archaic wooden pole as we have electric connections in the street and are on a busy street that actually feeds large apartment buildings across the small street. They have been persistent however in saying they did not want to have to pay to move the pole and are asking us to pay for removing it and hooking us up underground on the street. There are also poles nearby on side streets and in an alley they could be using instead of our pole. In addition the pole is leaning toward structures which they said wasn't a problem.

    They did send us the original permission of use of easement and the Plat map. Well we had it measured and the map appears to be incorrect in it's measurement as well. I am looking into seeing the original plat map as it appears to be updated recently? Which leads me to my next question if it was updated and there appear to be other pages of the plat map over the years which plat is correct?? Is it the plat congruent to the date of the original easement and can this peculiarity be used as a defense against the company? Hmm, I did want to avoid getting a survey done but if necessary I may well do that.

    Final question if I go with another energy company and ask them to just put our wires connections underground will it help my argument in getting this pole and its wire removed? I realize it is connecting to neighbors however they could be getting their power from the nearby pole instead of our yard, in fact the whole street should be underground as we have underground connections already in place they just don't want to pay for it. Would this be grounds for a "Quiet the Title "? OR.....


    Thanks guys for lending an ear to a newbie on this site.
    While it's possible that there are two different power utilities in the same area I find it unlikely. If the existing wiring is connected to overhead lines owned by utility A then utility B cannot just take over. Also, utility A owns that overhead drop as the typical point of demarcation is the strike on your house (where the insulator is that supports the overhead drop). Your ownership of the electrical system in your home and on your property begins after that strike and excludes the meter. If you had underground service that point of demarcation is a bit more variable as there are utilities that will assert ownership to the meter and those that say it's at the termination in the transformer.

    You are free to request that the utility place the lines underground but in order to do so they will not only bill you for that (hold on to your wallet!) they may retain that easement where the power lines are based on the tariffs. But, in short, you cannot compel the utility to place your lines underground or to reroute distribution that serves your neighbors. the distribution grid and serving transformers are loaded in a specific manner so relocating one service would also mean upgrading a pole mounted transformer (expensive) as well as a new service drop to say nothing of the labor and equipment to install this equipment. Oh, and the costs in upgrading an underground transformer or installation of an additional one to serve your residence (guess who pays for that, as well though you won't own it).

    Utilities are pretty adamant in retaining their easements. Unless you have a substantial amount of money to throw at this crapshoot I suspect you're better off living with what you have. Utilities have entire legal departments.
    "Where do those stairs go?"
    "They go up!"

  4. #4
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    Default Re: I Wish to Terminate an Easement Attached to Our Title

    Quote Quoting Silasdogood
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    Final question if I go with another energy company and ask them to just put our wires connections underground will it help my argument in getting this pole and its wire removed? I realize it is connecting to neighbors however they could be getting their power from the nearby pole instead of our yard, in fact the whole street should be underground as we have underground connections already in place they just don't want to pay for it. Would this be grounds for a "Quiet the Title "? OR.....
    I will first agree with Mark that if the utility were amenable to relocating your service it will be very expensive because it would be at your request and not necessary to provide electric to your property. But you need to read the tariffs (probably found on the utility website) to know for sure.

    The easement that was granted in the early 40's is now 80 years old. Even if the easement is not in the location that the plat depicts, it has been there unquestioned for 80 years. A quiet title suit would fail because the utility could have put that pole anywhere and not being questioned for more than 5 years (in CA) the easement was established by adverse possession.

    There is nothing you can do to terminate the easement. Once granted and appurtenant to the land it is there forever. Only by agreement of the servient and dominant estates or a showing that the dominant estate abandoned the easement by their own actions (ruled on by a court) can an easement be terminated. And if they were to remove the pole they likely will not terminate the easement.

    Don't waste your money on a survey because it won't make any difference where the pole is.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: I Wish to Terminate an Easement Attached to Our Title

    Quote Quoting Silasdogood
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    it came as a bit of a shock that they even had an easement. We knew the pole was there
    The presence of the pole was your hint that you should have investigated further before making an offer on the property.

    The reality is that the utility company has no obligation to remove the pole or abandon the easement.

    If you want the pole removed and the power lines rerouted, you pay for it.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: I Wish to Terminate an Easement Attached to Our Title

    Quote Quoting Silasdogood
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    We were never aware of the title given to the Utility company. In fact the easement was not included with our deed that I know of, so it came as a bit of a shock that they even had an easement.
    Did you obtain a policy of title insurance when you bought the property? If so, is the existence of the utility easement mentioned in the policy?


    Quote Quoting Silasdogood
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    I am looking into seeing the original plat map as it appears to be updated recently?
    Despite your use of a question mark this sentence is not a question. If you intended a question, I cannot discern what you intended to ask.


    Quote Quoting Silasdogood
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    if it was updated and there appear to be other pages of the plat map over the years which plat is correct?
    I'm not sure what "it" refers to, but we have no reason to believe that any particular map is incorrect. Of course, it's impossible to intelligently address a question about whether a map is or isn't correct without seeing the map.


    Quote Quoting Silasdogood
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    Is it the plat congruent to the date of the original easement and can this peculiarity be used as a defense against the company?
    Huh?


    Quote Quoting Silasdogood
    View Post
    if I go with another energy company and ask them to just put our wires connections underground will it help my argument in getting this pole and its wire removed?
    Again, huh? What does "go with another energy company." If you're talking about switching utility providers (if that's even an option where you live), I can't conceive what that might have to do with any argument.

    BOTTOM LINE: The easement exists and the pole exists. Even if you did not have actual notice of the easement as a result of receiving a title report, the pole put you on constructive notice that something was going on. Indeed, you admitted that you "knew the pole was there" and apparently didn't inquire about until "decades" after you bought the property. All the stuff you wrote about a map is unclear, but if you're suggesting that the pole is not within the boundaries of the easement, you're probably still out of luck because you knew the pole was there and failed to take action. Thus, the utility would likely have a prescriptive easement (a prescriptive easement is the analog of obtaining title by adverse possession).

    Finally, your subjective opinion about the necessity of the pole is irrelevant to anything.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: I Wish to Terminate an Easement Attached to Our Title

    Quote Quoting flyingron
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    The first step would be to contact the utility and see if they would consider abandoning the easement. Note that deeds don't typically specifically name encumberances that already exist. Understand your home title is not a single document (the deed granting it to you) but all the historical records of deeds and the like over time. Note that you might get them to remove an unnecessary pole, but the easement likely also covers the subterranean utility lines as well.

    The plat is probably only secondary to the description in the deed granting the easement (i.e., the person who prepared the plat did so based on the wording of that deed).

    A quiet title may be possible, but there's no way this is something we can explain to you over the internet. You're going to need a real estate attorney to do the proper research needed to make a cogent filing.
    Flying iron I could not find my original post to you but wanted to let you know we are the second owners the only other owners were the people who built the house. They did the "right of way" grant right before the purchase like within the month. The house was built in the 40's however we bought the property from them decades ago. So basically before google I didn't even know about encumbrances. This fact was NEVER mentioned to us and we never had docs to let us know they even existed. Also the pole was obscured by a building and trees. We bought the house in good faith. I understand if the time has already passed for an objection to it's placement however the utility co. is allowing it to rot, lean toward structures etc.. We have asked them so many times to come out every storm season and they keep telling us it is fine despite it being due for replacement as outlined by the company's own website regarding poles. How do we know it's fine? How can we take their word for it if they have told us they don't want to remove it. Basically asking them to be the judge and jury is a no go. I am going to look into maybe getting another co. out here to look at the pole and their lines to verify that the pole is safe up against structures that were pre-existing. For some reason I do not think that is even up to code anymore.

    I was hoping to approach this termination request by letting them know not only have they neglected the pole maintenance as outlined in the contract but the "purpose for an easement no longer exists" that was in the easement. This is defined under this definition : "If the purpose for which the easement was originally granted ceases to exist, so does the easement. For example if the owner of the property was able to secure another access, another easement for access may terminate." This is like our case. The city utility already has hook-ups in the street, that is their other available access they do not need our pole for access anymore hence I think we have grounds for termination. I am eager to know what you think, thank you again Flyingron!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: I Wish to Terminate an Easement Attached to Our Title

    Quote Quoting Silasdogood
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    Flying iron I could not find my original post to you but wanted to let you know we are the second owners the only other owners were the people who built the house. They did the "right of way" grant right before the purchase like within the month. The house was built in the 40's however we bought the property from them decades ago. So basically before google I didn't even know about encumbrances. This fact was NEVER mentioned to us and we never had docs to let us know they even existed. Also the pole was obscured by a building and trees. We bought the house in good faith. I understand if the time has already passed for an objection to it's placement however the utility co. is allowing it to rot, lean toward structures etc.. We have asked them so many times to come out every storm season and they keep telling us it is fine despite it being due for replacement as outlined by the company's own website regarding poles. How do we know it's fine? How can we take their word for it if they have told us they don't want to remove it. Basically asking them to be the judge and jury is a no go. I am going to look into maybe getting another co. out here to look at the pole and their lines to verify that the pole is safe up against structures that were pre-existing. For some reason I do not think that is even up to code anymore.

    I was hoping to approach this termination request by letting them know not only have they neglected the pole maintenance as outlined in the contract but the "purpose for an easement no longer exists" that was in the easement. This is defined under this definition : "If the purpose for which the easement was originally granted ceases to exist, so does the easement. For example if the owner of the property was able to secure another access, another easement for access may terminate." This is like our case. The city utility already has hook-ups in the street, that is their other available access they do not need our pole for access anymore hence I think we have grounds for termination. I am eager to know what you think, thank you again Flyingron!
    A few quick things: The need for the easement does still exist and per your second paragraph the only way to extinguish it is to remove the purpose (no house(s) to serve) or to provide another means of access. 2) you are not the judge and jury of the condition of the pole and getting a third party out to inspect the pole won't gain you much as the utility is the owner of the pole. If it breaks and damages the home then it will help in ensuring that insurance pays off but it won't, likely convince them to replace the pole. Power pole replacement costs average $3000. While that may not seem like a lot to you when you consider the size of a utility network and multiply that cost out it const a fortune to maintain that infrastructure and husbanding those budgets becomes critical. $3000 is a lot to large businesses/utilities as well just for different reasons.

    AS fruitless as it may seem I'd say that o continue having a go at the utility to replace the pole. Perhaps they'll get sick of hearing from you and replace it. After all, the squeaky wheel gets the $3000's worth of grease.
    "Where do those stairs go?"
    "They go up!"

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