Property disputes can be complex. The laws governing property rights are equally as complex. Our real estate agents often deal with land disputes which aren’t always black and white. Some of the grey areas involve adverse possession, also colloquially known as squatter’s rights.
Adverse Possession Explained
Let’s say you own a home in Washington. You do not live in the home. You may have inherited it and forgotten about it, or were just unaware of it. The home sits abandoned, and a squatter eventually moves in. You suddenly remember or learn about the now-occupied property. Does the property belong to you or the squatter?
The squatter scenario is actually uncommon. More often, a neighboring property owner gradually expands his property past the border line.
Adverse possession laws vary state-to-state. This is why such disputes require attorney intervention.
Adverse Possession in Washington
Under Washington statute, the law is generally on the side of the property owner. The encroaching neighbor or squatter is the one that has to establish burden of proof. If not, then the legal property holder has the presumption of ownership.
As with most states, no statute in Washington exists that outlines the neighbor’s/squatter’s specific burden of proof. However, the neighbor or squatter can generally win in court by fulfilling the following requirements:
- Exercise continuous use of the property for a minimum 10 years
- Openly use the land without intent to hide use or occupation
- The squatter’s/neighbor’s possession must be exclusive, meaning there is no prior agreement sharing the land between the squatter and real owner.
We Settle Land Disputes
Our firm has settled hundreds of similar cases in Lynnwood and its surrounding cities. Give Curtis and Casteel Law Group a call if you’re involved in such disputes. This applies in all adverse possession cases, whether you’re the legal owner or the squatter/neighbor.
Land Dispute Settlement in Lynnwood
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