The Doctrine of Merger in California actual property legislation offers that when a larger and lesser property are vested in the identical particular person, the lesser property might merge into the larger property and the lesser property be terminated. A sensible instance is the case of an easement on one of many properties (the servient) for the good thing about the opposite property (the dominant). The easement is terminated when the identical particular person acquires each the dominant and servient estates. However there are exceptions, as a troubled proprietor realized in a choice issued final November.
In Tariwala v Mack, Defendant Mack owned two adjoining properties at 2957 & 2949 Los Robles Street in Thousand Oaks. Lot 2957 (the Mack property) was within the entrance alongside the highway, the opposite lot was within the again. A recorded easement over the Mack property offers the one entry to 2949 (what later grew to become the Plaintiff’s property)
Mack misplaced the rear property in foreclosures. Mack refused to maneuver out of the home and take away rubbish, inoperable automobiles, and different private property, and the Financial institution needed to evict him. The financial institution ultimately offered it to the Plaintiffs. Mack denied an easement existed and refused Plaintiffs entry over his property so they might start clearing their lot and renovating the now-dilapidated home. They filed a lawsuit to verify the easement, and for a preliminary injunction, which they acquired. Mac violated the injunction and was present in contempt twice. Mac misplaced at trial and appealed, claiming that the easement was extinguished when he owned each properties as a result of doctrine of merger.
The courtroom first reviewed the merger doctrine. The merger doctrine is said in Civil Code part 811 which states, partly, that
“[a] servitude is extinguished: 1. By the vesting of the best to the servitude and the best to the servient tenement in the identical particular person….”
Part 805 states that “[a] servitude thereon can’t be held by the proprietor of the servient tenement.”
These statutes “keep away from nonsensical easements – the place they’re no doubt pointless as a result of the proprietor owns the property.”
Merger requires “a unity of title, in that title and possession of [the dominant and servient tenements] have to be coextensive and equal in validity, high quality, proper to possession, and all different traits.”
Whether or not or not there’s a merger when the estates are held by the identical particular person is dependent upon the intention of the particular person in whom the pursuits are united. It’s presumed that there isn’t a merger when the outcomes of a merger can be inequitable.
Nonetheless, there isn’t a merger when the lesser property in the identical parcel of actual property are held by the identical particular person, however with an intermediate curiosity. The authorized query thus arises whether or not a deed of belief, by which the property proprietor conveys title to the property to a trustee to be held for a beneficiary – usually a lender – prevents merger.
On this case, it seems that when Mack grew to become the only real proprietor of each properties he concurrently granted a deed of belief secured by the Plaintiff’s property that referenced the easement. He additionally encumbered the Plaintiff’s property two extra occasions. This was an intermediate curiosity, an property held by the Lender.
The courtroom believed that making use of the doctrine would render the lender’s safety curiosity nugatory, because it was secured by the Plaintiffs’ property which might turn out to be landlocked if merger was utilized. The enchantment was denied. As said by the supreme courtroom,
‘Merger is at all times a query of intent when the query is as as to whether a mortgage lien is merged within the charge, upon each being united in the identical particular person. Fairness will hold the authorized title and the mortgagee’s curiosity separate. If there may be an intervening mortgage the acquirement of the title won’t function as a merger.’ Davis v. Randall (1897) 117 Cal. 12, 16-17)
Right here the lender protected itself from this disastrous consequence by referencing the easement their deeds of belief. Such language ought to unambiguously embrace the borrower’s settlement, to be binding on any transferee, that the merger doctrine can have no utility to the secured property as long as the deed of belief stays in impact.