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Irwin Law
Irwin Law, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 6779
Experience:  Lawyer & Real Estate Broker, 30+ years, foreclosure, land contracts, inheritance, probate.
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We bought our property in 2011. The adjoining vacant lot is

Customer Question

We bought our property in 2011. The adjoining vacant lot is a tax title property owned by the county. We have tried to purchase the property from the county and been told we couldn't buy it. We have used the vacant lot as if it was ours since 2011. The county had full knowledge that we were doing so and never said a word about it. Then out of the blue the they send a letter telling us we have until the 11th of May to remove anything we have on the property even the sani can. If we don't comply they will charge us with trespass and prosecute to the full extent of the law. We do have an easement through the property which is our driveway.We are 2 years away from adverse possession. We have been unable to pay any taxes as none are due because being county owned it is exempt. We are the only ones who could benefit by owning the property. Its not an asset to the county because of location. We have the money to pay the taxes that would have accrued since 2011 along with the fees the county would charge. We are going to start by filing an injunction with the courts but what is the next step and is there a solution to this problem. We feel they are being unfair and discriminating against us by not selling it to us.
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Irwin Law replied 5 months ago.
Good morning. You are truly an early bird. The general rule is that one cannot hold adverse possession against a municipality or as to government / public owned property. This holds true for Washington State by virtue of the following statute:Adverse possession—Public lands—Adverse title in infants, etc.RCW 7.28.070 and 7.28.080 shall not extend to lands or tenements owned by the United States or this state, nor to school lands, nor to lands held for any public purpose. Nor shall they extend to lands or tenements when there shall be an adverse title to such lands or tenements, and the holder of such adverse title is a person under eighteen years of age, or incompetent within the meaning of RCW 11.88.010: PROVIDED, Such persons as aforesaid shall commence an action to recover such lands or tenements so possessed as aforesaid, within three years after the several disabilities herein enumerated shall cease to exist, and shall prosecute such action to judgment, or in case of vacant and unoccupied land shall, within the time last aforesaid, pay to the person or persons who have paid the same for his or her betterments, and the taxes, with interest on said taxes at the legal rate per annum that have been paid on said vacant and unimproved land.RCW 7.28.070Adverse possession under claim and color of title—Payment of taxes.Every person in actual, open and notorious possession of lands or tenements under claim and color of title, made in good faith, and who shall for seven successive years continue in possession, and shall also during said time pay all taxes legally assessed on such lands or tenements, shall be held and adjudged to be the legal owner of said lands or tenements, to the extent and according to the purport of his or her paper title. All persons holding under such possession, by purchase, devise or descent, before said seven years shall have expired, and who shall continue such possession and continue to pay the taxes as aforesaid, so as to complete the possession and payment of taxes for the term aforesaid, shall be entitled to the benefit of this section.While you may file suit against the county to quiet title to that lot, it would not appear that you have much chance of success. I ask that you please don't shoot the messenger with your rating of my Answer. If you doubt that this information is accurate, you should contact a local attorney for verification.

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