The Assessor is Not an Accurate Source of Easement Information

The Assessor's Office receives frequent inquiries for information regarding easements.  However, the Assessor department is not an accurate source of easement information.

Why is the Assessor not an accurate source of easement information? 

  • An appraisal for California property tax purposes involves the valuation of the entire fee simple estate unencumbered by any private interests (e.g. leases, liens, easements, etc.)
  •  Most private easements are not separately recognized for property tax purposes and therefore those easements are not reflected on Assessor parcel maps. 

Although the easement is itself a real property interest, the legal title to the underlying land is retained by the original owner of all other purposes. 

One rare exception arises when the language contained in the grant of the easement effectively transfers an interest "substantially equivalent to the value of the fee," thus giving rise to a change in ownership under R & T Section 60.  In those cases, a new assessment (APN) is created which then would be reflected in the Assessor's records and maps.

It is important to remember that assessor parcel maps are a visual inventory of the recorded legal documents which define property ownership for property tax assessment purposes only.  The assessor parcel map does not take the place of any of these legal documents and does not determine ownership rights, parcel legality or a valid building site.  The precise location of property boundaries on the ground must be determined by a land surveyor.

For information regarding easements, please refer to the following resources: 

  • Title Report.  Private easements may be granted at any time, without County approval, and a current title report will list easements and a private land surveyor can locate them on the ground.
  • Recorder's Office. Easement search at the Recorder's office.  Also recorded subdivision maps can be obtained at the Recorder's office. 
  • Community Development (Planning) Department for the county or the incorporated city where the property is located.