Having issues with a neighbor can be tedious, annoying, and sometimes scary. One big issue that people may not know is that property boundary lines can shift over time. It is not uncommon for a property owner to receive a survey of their property and find out that the deed’s legal description no longer matches how the property is being used. Boundary issues are complicated. There are a few different ways that boundaries may be established including, adverse possession, practical location doctrines, and RCW 58.04.
RCW 58.04.007 draws out the following procedure for boundary line disputes:
Whenever a point or line determining the boundary between two or more parcels of real property cannot be identified from the existing public record, monuments, and landmarks, or is in dispute, the landowners affected by the determination of the point or line may resolve any dispute and fix the boundary point or line by one of the following procedures:
- (1) If all of the affected landowners agree to a description and marking of a point or line determining a boundary, they shall document the agreement in a written instrument, using appropriate legal descriptions and including a survey map, filed in accordance with chapter 58.09 RCW. The written instrument shall be signed and acknowledged by each party in the manner required for a conveyance of real property. The agreement is binding upon the parties, their successors, assigns, heirs and devisees and runs with the land. The agreement shall be recorded with the real estate records in the county or counties in which the affected parcels of real estate or any portion of them is located.
- (2) If all of the affected landowners cannot agree to a point or line determining the boundary between two or more parcels of real estate, any one of them may bring suit for determination as provided in RCW 58.04.020.
Additionally, RCW 58.04.020 provides availability for a suit to establish lost or uncertain boundaries:
- (1) Whenever the boundaries of lands between two or more adjoining proprietors have been lost, or by time, accident or any other cause, have become obscure, or uncertain, and the adjoining proprietors cannot agree to establish the same, one or more of the adjoining proprietors may bring a civil action in equity, in the superior court, for the county in which such lands, or part of them are situated, and that superior court, as a court of equity, may upon the complaint, order such lost or uncertain boundaries to be erected and established and properly marked.
- (2) The superior court may order the parties to utilize mediation before the civil action is allowed to proceed.
These types of proceedings are conducted as civil actions. The court will apportion the costs equitably and may put a lien on the lands.
Other issues that may arise out of boundary disputes are issues involving fencing, establishing a dike or a ditch as community boundary, sign removal, and noisy animals. For example, in 2002, a spat between Washington neighbors led to feuding arguments about a mutual restraining order brought on by a miscellany of complaints involving removal of a no trespassing sign, throwing fireworks, posting of a sign that said, “whoever said love thy neighbor never met ours,” and calling the Humane Society about a noisy peacock. With that being said, there are numerous actions that can come to fruition regarding neighbors and the vast array of dispute issues.
Boundary disputes are complicated. The good news is, the attorneys at Navigate are equipped to handle them all. If you are having a dispute with your neighbor, please contact us for the best option to move forward.
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Every legal issue is very unique. Accordingly, the information in this blog is intended as general education material and not as legal advice. If you think you may have a legal issue you should consult an attorney.