Creating a real property easement in Washington

By Roger Dunaway
August 26, 2007

Earlier this week the Washington Court of Appeals Division III ruled that recording a document labelled an "easement" is not by itself sufficient to create a real property easement.

In Zunino v. Rajewski, a property seller created and recorded a document at the time of sale entitled "Private Road and Utility Easement." The document was signed only by the seller. The statutory warranty deed given to the buyer did not reserve or grant an easement. The court noted that the creation of an easement is governed by the statute of frauds, which requires that an easement be by written deed. The deed must convey land and must be in writing, signed by the party to be bound, and must be acknowledged. Because the document entitled "easement" did not convey land, it did not create a valid easement.  In addition, the burdened property owner's agreement to the easement, which is a vital element in the creation of an easement, was lacking in this case.

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