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Real Estate Easements, Merger Doctrine

An easement does not carry any title to the land over which it is exericised; rather, it is a right to use land for particular purposes. Blackburn Habitat Dev. Co., 57 S.W.3d 378, 389 (Mo. Ct. App. 2001). For express easement created by a formal agreement or grant, any words clearly showing the intention of the parties is sufficient. Id. Easement litigation, like much of real estate litigation generally, can be complex because much of the law is older and because the factual circumstances leading to disputes can be nuanced. 

What’s more, the law sets forth many theories which can implicity affect or even terminate an easement with an individual knowing about it. For instance, the merger doctrine can be used to destroy or extinguish an easement all together. Easements are typically between two or more individuals or two or more tracts of land. The merger theory holds that if all of the rights relating to the easement come into one person or common ownership of land, then the easement is automatically nullified. St. Charles County v. Laclede Gas Co., 356 S.W.3d 137, 141 (Mo. 2011) (“[f]or the doctrine of merger to apply, a [party] must show unity ot title and unity of possession”). The rationale for merger is that because of the unity of title and possession, there is no more need for the previously existing easement.  

Contat with questions relating to easements and real estate disputes/litigation.