Legal Memorandum: Interference with an Easement in TX

Issue: Under Texas law, does a locked gate at the entrance to an easement constitute an unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of the easement?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Real Estate Law
Keywords: Easement; Obstruction or interference; Intention of parties act
Jurisdiction: Texas
Cited Cases: 684 S.W.2d 955; 401 S.W.2d 897; 221 S.W. 265; 90 S.W.3d 697; 975 S.W.2d 424; 875 S.W.2d 482; 313 S.W.2d 99
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 05/01/2005

  The controlling principle in disputes involving obstruction or interference with an easement is that “[a] servient estate cannot interfere with the right of the dominant estate to use an easement for the purpose for which it was granted or sought.  Any use by others that interferes with the exercise of superior easement rights must yield.”  McDaniel v. Calvert, 875 S.W.2d 482, 485 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 1994, no writ) (citations omitted). 

Generally, whether there is an impermissible interference with an express easement depends on the language of the deed and the intention of the parties.  See, e.g., Adams v. Norsworthy Ranch, Ltd, 975 S.W.2d 424, 427 (Tex. App.—Austin 1998, no pet.) (when there is an express easement, courts look to language of the easement to determine the access rights granted); Kearney & Son v. Fancher, 401 S.W.2d 897, 903-04 (Tex. Civ. App.—Fort Worth 1966, writ ref’d n.r.e.) (intention of parties creating an easement is of primary importance, and easement will be construed to fulfill those intentions); see also Bailey v. Mullens, 313 S.W.2d 99, 102 (Tex. Civ. App.—San Antonio 1958, writ ref’s n.r.e.) (“cardinal rule for the construction of deeds is that the intention of the parties is to be ascertained, and if not forbidden by law, effectuated, gathered from the entire instrument, together with the surrounding circumstances”).  Additionally, “[s]ince the language of a deed is that of the grantor, if there is any doubt […]

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