Wednesday, November 26, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Can PG&E just show up, cut the lock and get on my property?

jones column sig

By
From page C2 | January 04, 2014 |

Q: I have a question concerning easements. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has an easement on my property. It’s a rural property and the problem is they just showed up, cut the lock on the gate and helped themselves. No notice or anything. Can they do that? Isn’t there some law to protect the property owner that requires the company to give notice of some kind? The real nagging part is their easement is on another part of my property and they have to drive where they have no easement to get to their easement. Thanks.

A: With regard to easements in general; no, there’s no requirement that the holder of the easement inform the property owner, known as the “servient tenement,” of their intent to use their easement.

The very definition of an easement is a right in which a nonowner of the land can use the owner’s land for a specific purpose.

It is possible to put into an easement agreement conditions under which the easement holder can use the easement, such as with a 24-hour notice, but such conditions are not common with utility easements.

The typical utility easement allows the utility provider, be they electric, water, gas, cable, etc., to come onto a property to install or maintain their physical infrastructure. In days gone by that often meant accessing the telephone poles that were usually placed in backyards. Even in older subdivisions, water and gas pipes are typically going through the front yard, which is easy to get at from the street.

Regardless, the utility company didn’t run their services until they had guaranteed themselves an easement.

Problems like yours arise when one of two things happens.

First, especially in rural properties, easements that were established many, many decades ago when they made sense, make less sense after years of properties being divided and boundary lines changed. So an easement that was easily accessible in 1942 is now landlocked.

Battles like yours have been fought in court for years. Today, it’s all but uncontested that a recorded easement which later becomes landlocked can be accessed via the most reasonable means available. This new unrecorded access easement is known as an “easement by necessity.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean the utility can get to their easement by driving their trucks through your living room. But clearly they can drive on the unobstructed side of your property.

The second problem that occurs is when boundary lines haven’t changed, but homeowners have installed fences, gates, concrete patios and the like over the easement.

This is extremely common.

Anyone who looks at the recorded map of their residential property will see lots of easements. Most will never be accessed by the municipality or company that owns the easement. They dropped their pipes or wires in the ground and that’s the last time anyone will ever see them. But if they do need to get to it, for example if there was a leaky gas pipe, the utility could excavate the owner’s improvements and not have to pay to replace them.

The same goes for the gate with a lock.

If you’ve run a gate across an access easement and it has a lock, the utility is free to cut the lock, or even remove the fence if necessary, to access their easement.

Now while this sounds somewhat harsh, the truth is that unless there is an emergency, municipalities and utility companies generally have an internal policy of notifying owners of their intent to enter the property. Remember, they don’t have to. But inspired by the fear of bad press, most will give notice.

I’m just speculating here, but it’s possible that since your property is rural, the utility didn’t anticipate there would be a problem like there would be if you lived in the suburbs. I don’t know.

But the best thing I can suggest for the future is that you contact PG&E, give them your address and your contact information, and ask that you be given reasonable notice of their intent to enter next time. Tell them you’d be happy to show up and remove the lock.

Tim Jones is a real estate attorney in Fairfield. If you have any real estate questions you would like to have answered in this column you can contact him at SolanoScene@TJones-Law.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

     
    Groups distribute Thanksgiving food

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Supervisors hear suggestions for vacant county property

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

     
    County fair proposal, budget topics of scrutiny

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Police: Vehicle burglaries not new for Fairfield

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

     
    Fairfield police investigate shooting

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

     
    Library schedules soap-making program

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A4

     
    Vacaville PD seeks VIPS program volunteers

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A4

     
    Fairfield police offer free gun locks

    By Ian Thompson | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

     
    Science comes to libraries – for all to see

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

    Soroptimists seek award applicants

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

     
     
    Nichols plans free family concert in Napa

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A7

    Church’s holiday soiree on Vacaville calendar

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A7

     
    Suisun City police log: Nov. 24, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

     
    Fairfield police log: Nov. 23, 2014

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

    Fairfield police log: Nov. 22, 2014

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

     
    Suisun City police log: Nov. 23, 2014

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

    Suisun City police log: Nov. 22, 2014

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

     
    Weather for Nov. 26, 2014

    By Daily Republic | From Page: B12

    .

    US / World

    Grand jury focused on key fatal Ferguson ‘tussle’

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Anger at Ferguson case based on emotion, evidence

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    Tough to make a case against police in shootings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Protesters return to riot-scarred Ferguson streets

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    Heirloom ring flushed; sewer workers retrieve it

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Ohio family recovers missing Sasquatch statue

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Auction fetches $28K for 1st batch of new bourbon

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    In Seattle, tofu turkeys get Thanksgiving pardons

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Los Angeles freeway sign unveiled with typo

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Agreement: LA jails to improve wheelchair access

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Window washer fights for life after 11-story fall

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Cosby philanthropy shadowed by sexual allegations

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

    Oakland police arrest more than 40 protesters

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

     
    Lawmakers target Golden Gate Bridge sidewalk fee

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

    Arkansas, Mississippi gay marriage bans overturned

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

     
    Calorie count to appear with many prepared foods

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

    Soldiers to spend Thanksgiving in Ebola isolation

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

     
    2 teen female bombers kill more than 40 in Nigeria

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

    8 shoes of Holocaust victims stolen in Poland

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

     
    Activists: Syrian strikes kill 60 in IS-held city

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

    AP sources: Top candidate for defense job bows out

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

     
    WWII Museum opening new pavilion in New Orleans

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

    Police: Students ran high school prostitution ring

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

     
    Wet basements in Buffalo as flooding fears ease

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

    Official: Afghan president orders military review

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

     
    .

    Opinion

    Hagel: The fall guy

    By David Rothkopf | From Page: A8

     
    Senate staff cuts reduce transparency

    By Dan Walters | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Living

    Community Calendar: Nov. 25, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

     
    Community Calendar: Nov. 26, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

    Today in History: Nov. 26, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Horoscope for Nov. 26, 2014

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

    The man I’m seeing makes no effort to get to know my kids

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

     
    Eggs make all the difference in mashed potatoes

    By J.M. Hirsch | From Page: B6

    Fresh take on an herb-roasted Thanksgiving turkey

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    Turn turkey leftovers into a healthy dinner salad

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    A do-ahead cornmeal biscuit to sop up your gravy

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    .

    Entertainment

    TVGrid

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    ‘Birdman’ leads Spirit Awards nominations

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    .

    Sports

    Curry powers Warriors past Heat 114-97

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    49ers rookies shine in big roles, out of necessity

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    Cousins, Kings beat Pelicans 99-89

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Red Sox bring in Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Vacaville Christian wins 3-0, advances to state quarterfinals

    By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    AP source: Left-hander Jon Lester, Giants to meet

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Pats are unanimous No. 1 in AP Pro32 rankings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    NFL, union discuss personal conduct policy

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Bama, FSU, Oregon, Miss St keep playoff rankings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Messi sets European record with 74 goals

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Judge OKs Hernandez trial delay in 2012 killings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Kurt Busch wins delay of Delaware court hearing

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Giants third base coach Tim Flannery retires

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    .

    Business

    US home price gains slow for 10th straight month

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
    Barbie dethroned by Team Elsa

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

    Rain, snow could mess up Thanksgiving travel

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
    New iPhones push Apple’s market cap past $700B

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

    Twitter lets merchants offer deals to its users

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
    US economy posts even stronger growth in Q3

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

    Thanksgiving travel woes? There’s an app for that

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Esther Ringler

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Glenita Reyes McLaughliin

    By Daily Republic | From Page: A4

    Leslie “Esi” Gros

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Blondie

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Garfield

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Wizard of Id

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    For Better or Worse

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Beetle Bailey

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Baldo

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Dilbert

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Peanuts

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Baby Blues

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Pickles

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Zits

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Sally Forth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Rose is Rose

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Get Fuzzy

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Frank and Ernest

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    B.C.

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Cryptoquote

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Sudoku

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

    Bridge

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Word Sleuth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5