As the expression goes: “No good deed goes unpunished.” In the world of real property law, if a landowner, trying to be a “good neighbor”, allows someone to use his or her property, that neighborly accommodation may ripen into a permanent easement-type property interest across the property.

A recent decision from the California Court of Appeal in Richardson v. Franc expanded the legal doctrine of “irrevocable licenses” in a situation where one neighbor simply allowed another neighbor to use a portion of a driveway for landscaping and irrigation. Whereas prior cases applying irrevocable licenses arose from the parties’ oral agreement, in Richardson the parties never communicated to each other. The landowner’s knowledge of the use, without assent or objection, was sufficient to create a permanent, easement-like property interest.

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