With an appurtenant easement, it’s important to remember that there are two parcels involved:
- The burdened parcel
- The benefited parcel
The burdened parcel is the property that is burdened by the easement or over which easement runs. The benefited parcel is the property that receives the benefit of using that easement. It’s possible to have multiple burdened or benefitted parcels. It’s also possible that a parcel burdened by an easement could also be benefitted by that same easement. For example, an easement for a shared driveway could burden a portion of a particular parcel, but also benefit that parcel by allowing the owner of that parcel the benefit of driving over a neighboring property. In this situation, the easement is usually termed a “reciprocal easement.”
Merger means that an easement has merged with the fee ownership of the property and ceases to exist. If benefited and burdened parcels come into common ownership, the doctrine of merger usually applies. The easement cannot be resurrected by selling one of the parcels after merger has occurred. A new easement must be created. There is an exception to the doctrine of merger, however. If the easement was created by a common owner after August 1, 2001 by use of a Declaration of Easements including non-merger language, the easement would not merge.