Easements May Not Be Expanded Beyond Original Grant or Intent
Description Appeals court held that the buyers of property that had a road easement to it could not expand that easement to be able to obtain access to some other land they purchased along the easement. However, the buyers obtained an easement to their septic field, which extended beyond their property line, because the easement was implied in the property sale.
Topic Real and Personal Property
Key Words Express Easement; Easement Appurtenant
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Holmstrom owned 43 acres of land. He split out two acres to have a separate deed so he could obtain a mortgage to build a home on the two acres. The lender required Holmstrom to create a 50-foot wide road easement across his 41 acres to give highway access to the two acres. He ran a water line to the house along the easement and across the remainder of his land. The house uses a septic field that extends beyond the two acres into the other 41 acres. Later, the bank foreclosed on the two-acre tract and sold that land and house to the Lees. The Lees also bought 18 acres from a third party that is separated from the two acres by the 50-foot easement. The Lees and Holmstrom got into a dispute over easement rights. The Lees sued for declaratory judgment that they were entitled to run water lines and to travel from their house to their 18 acres by crossing the road easement. The appeals court had to review the matter.
Decision "An easement appurtenant benefits the property to which it is attached; it cannot be separated from the owner's rights in the land, and it passes with the property." Such easements pass even without express reference in the deed. "A water or sewer system that is not the subject of an express easement and that lies under the common grantor's land is usually treated as an implied easement appurtenant." That applies in this case; the Lees have an easement for their water lines and septic field. Holmstrom does not have to supply water to the Lees, but he cannot interfere with their water lines. However, "it is well established that an easement cannot be used to pass onto another parcel of land; it can only be used to serve the land to which it is appurtenant." Hence, the road easement is only to have access from the highway to the two-acre parcel; it does not grant an easement to the 18-acre parcel.
Citation Holmstrom v. Lee, 2000 WL 1125238 (Ct. App., Tex., 2000)

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