PROPERTY LINE DISPUTES IN TACOMA, WASHINGTON
Good fences can make for good neighbors. But in some situations, they are not enough to prevent a serious property dispute. Our office frequently receives calls from both businesses and homeowners who are distraught when a property line disputes with a neighbor escalates to harassment. If you find yourself in the middle of a similar situation, you may want to contact an attorney before things get out of hand. Some of the issues our office handles include:
- Property line disputes
- Boundary line disputes
- Adverse possession
- Easement issues
- Neighbor issues, such as harassment and trespassing
- Contract issues
- Zoning and compliance
PROPERTY LINE AND BOUNDARY DISPUTES
Property line and boundary issues range from complaints about vegetation overhang to serious worries of adverse possession. Regardless of where your concern rests on the property dispute spectrum, the stress of dealing with an unreasonable or uncooperative neighbor can be overwhelming. We get it. Your property is not just a significant financial investment. It is the safe haven you have worked hard to provide for your family. Protecting it makes sense but getting wrapped up in a heated argument about will likely only serve to make things worse.
An experienced property attorney can help you understand your property rights and develop a strategy to protect them. If you have a property line or boundary concern, it is wise to start by retrieving the legal description of your property. Gather your purchase and sale agreement from when you bought the home or land, and a boundary survey for the property if available. Drafting a timeline of the issue along with photos, videos, and/or copies of communication that demonstrate the history of the dispute is also helpful. An attorney will be in a better position to help you evaluate your options if they have access to the legal information impacting the property.
Adverse possession is a legal doctrine that allows a person in possession (use) of land owned by someone else to acquire valid title to it IF certain common law elements are met. Typically, all of the requirements below must be met for a minimum time period. This varies depending on jurisdiction, before an individual can attempt to make a case for adverse possession.
- Continuous use
- A single individual must maintain possession of the land for the minimum time period
- The use must be hostile
- In this case hostile just means without permission or infringing on the rights of the property owner. Renters for example have permission to use property and therefore their possession is not hostile.
- Open and notorious
- The possession and use of the land must be clearly obvious.
- Actual possession
- The adverse possessor must be in actual possession of the property so that the property owner has the option to file a trespass cause of action within the statute of limitations.
- Exclusive possession
- The person claiming adverse possession cannot share control of the property with anyone else.
Adverse possession is a complex matter. It requires legal counsel regardless of which side of the claims you are on. If you anticipate facing an adverse possession lawsuit it is a good idea to contact an experienced property attorney.
Anyone who ever shared a room with a sibling can relate on some level to easement issues. Sharing property use can be challenging but it does not have to be hostile. An experienced property attorney can review your purchase agreement, land survey and legal description to determine if an easement exists, where it is, and what rights, responsibilities and privileges go along with it.
HARASSMENT AND TRESPASSING
Unfortunately, sometimes disagreements reach a boiling point and someone says or does something that crosses the line. When this happens, the behavior must be addressed swiftly to prevent further escalation.
Harassment comes in many forms but not all obnoxious behavior qualifies as harassment under the law. If someone is threatening physical harm or restraint, acting in a malicious manner with respect to safety of others, or threatening to damage property, you may be able to make a case for harassment. An experienced property attorney can review your unique situation and provide the best plan of action for getting the behavior to cease.
Generally speaking, in terms of neighbor disputes trespassing occurs when someone without legal rights to your property enters without permission and/or refuses to leave when asked. This term may also be used when one neighbor builds or develops in such a way that it encroaches on the property of another. One example might be if your neighbor puts his fence up one foot onto your property and refuses to correct the error once asked. An experienced property attorney can review your situation and provide options for addressing trespassing concerns.
Buying, renting or leasing a property is a series of contractual agreements between two parties. As with any contract, sometimes the parties have different interpretations of the terms within the agreement. When this happens, it is unlikely the parties will be able to resolve the matter objectively. An experienced contract attorney can review the contract terms and provide options for legally remedying the misunderstanding.
Better yet, if you are still in the process of entering into a contract, consulting an attorney for guidance before reaching an agreement with the other side may save a lot of expense and headache down the road.
ZONING AND COMPLIANCE ISSUES IN PIERCE COUNTY
Issues with residential property use typically come up when a property owner and nearby neighbor disagree on the legally permitted use of the property. Some examples of this might be if a homeowner in a residential zone tries to turn their house into a wedding or entertainment venue without proper permitting or holds loud concerts in their home until the wee hours of the night.
Issues with business zoning pop up frequently when certain types of businesses open in areas where they may not be allowed, expand without a permit, or use the property in ways other than as approved and intended.
Zoning and compliance issues can be complicated and difficult to navigate. If you have a zoning and/or compliance concern it is a good idea to consult with an attorney to learn about your rights and options for addressing it.
DEALING WITH A PROPERTY LINE DISPUTE IN PIERCE COUNTY?
Our firm has helped clients manage property concerns for nearly a decade. Call us today to learn more about how we can help you.
DISCLAIMER: The information provided above is intended to be a general discussion of common property issues, and is not intended to be taken as specific legal advice that applies to your individual fact situation. Always seek legal counsel for advice on your unique case needs.