Real Estate & Land Use


Implied easements? A necessary primer

You buy prime undeveloped property on a lovely island.  A couple of gravel roads lead to your lot. Based on the topography of the lot, one of the roads is more convenient for future development. One day, you decide to build, but you now learn that you cannot use the convenient road because you do not have an easement.   What about that gravel road that leads right to your…

See More

Neighbor entitled to remove encroaching tree through self-help

No duty of due care to prevent damage to tree imposed on neighbor A large portion of the roots from a tree growing on owner’s property had encroached onto the property of her neighbor. After the neighbor removed the encroaching roots, owner sued her neighbors for damage to the trees, for nuisance and for timber trespass. The  court ruled that the neighbor was entitled to remove those portions of roots that had encroached onto…

See More

No tenant emotional distress damages for relocation assistance

No emotional distress damages for tenants under relocation assistance provision of RLTA The Residential Landlord Tenant Act, RCW 59.18.085, which is intended to provide relocation assistance to tenants, does not allow emotional distress damages–this is the 5:4 holding of the Washington Supreme Court today. Segura v. Cabrera, (Oct. 29, 2015 – 90088-4). Landlord rents premises to tenant in violation of City Code Cabrera bought a house in Pasco and obtained a license…

See More

Homeowners’ association not to restrict condo lease percentage quota

Homeowners association restrict condo lease

Homeowners’ association needs supermajority to restrict condo lease percentage quota Today the Supreme Court ruled that a homeowners’ association may not unilaterally restrict condo leasing percentage quota, rather it needs to have the supermajority vote required by the HOA Declaration.  Filmore, LLLP v. Unit Owners Ass’n of Centre Pointe Condo, Sep. 3, 2015 – 90879-6. The case relates to Centre Pointe Condominium is a residential condominium complex in Bellingham,Washington. The Court…

See More

Can a homeowners’ association ban parking on city streets in its borders?

Can a homeowners’ association ban parking on city streets in its borders? A homeowners’ association (HOA) typically has vast authority to regulate community life within its borders, from square footage and appearance of homes to garbage enclosures and yard landscaping. But, can it prohibit its members from overnight parking on a city street within the community when any other person, such as a visitor or a neighbor, can park there? If the…

See More

Attorney fees mandatory for underground utility damage

1. Attorney fees mandatory under Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act, Court rules Are attorney fees mandatory for underground utility damage? Yes, both at trial and on appeal. Today, the Court of Appeals, D II, held that the award of attorney fees under the Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act was mandatory to the prevailing party where a neighbor using a backhoe to remove a stump negligently damaged a drain pipe, thus causing flooding to the adjoining property. Hayfield…

See More

Commercial loan guarantor liable for deficiency judgments

The WA Supreme Court decided today that under the Deeds of Trust Act (DTA, Chapter 61.24 RCW), a commercial loan guarantor whose own property has not been foreclosed are not protected from deficiency judgments after the borrower’s property has been foreclosed. (WA Federal v. Harvey, No. 90078-7 (consolidated with No. 90085-0), Slip. Op. at 6-7 (Wash. Sup. Ct. January 8, 2015)). The lower appellate courts (Div. I and Div. II) had issued…

See More

Strict appeal deadline upheld in San Juan County permit case

On December15, 2014, the Washington Supreme Court upheld the strict appeal deadline rule in Durland v. San Juan County. The Court ruled that a property owner could not challenge the issuance of his neighbor’s garage-addition building permit because the appeal deadline had passed, even though the property owner did not receive any notice that San Juan County issued the permit. Further, the county was not required to provide notice of this…

See More

The trap of do-it-yourself estate planning

Beware of the trap of do-it-yourself estate planning While estate planning forms sold by online “no-legal-advice” providers have proved to be popular, beware of the trap of do-it-yourself estate planning. A bankruptcy judge recently warned:  “Whether for carpentry or for estate planning, it is usually a good idea to use the right tool for the job.  Unfortunately, when it comes to estate planning and asset transfer, people are often ill-informed about the tools…

See More