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Dimitry Esquire
Dimitry Esquire, Attorney
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 41220
Experience:  JA Mentor, multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation & admin
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We own empty lots in seattle, wa. a few months ago, we were

Customer Question

we own empty lots in seattle, wa.
a few months ago, we were researching the possibility of developing them, and the guys that we were considering went by the lots (heavily wooded) and told us that there was someone living there. I had driven by the lots, and didn't see anyone, and i kind of forgot about the issue.
now, my son heard about this, and prompted me to take a closer look. Last night, we went out and started walking the property (heavily wooded, steep slope). I did indeed see a plastic tent there, and the owner of the house adjacent to the property told me that they had been there since at least winter, and that he had meant to get hold of me, but never did.
so, i've got squatters. they look like homeless people just needing a place to stay.
My inclination is to just look the other way; i have no plans for the property at the moment, and i would feel bad evicting them, and they've apparently been very quiet and have made no trouble for the neighbors. The neighbor who noticed them only saw them in the winter time, when all the leaves were down, and also said he did not notice any sanitation issues.
My concern is adverse possession.
I suppose i could draw up a letter telling them they can stay until i decide to do something with the properties, and deliver it to their tent. Then possession wouldn't be adverse, and my hope is that i could just ask them to leave when i eventually decide what to do with the property.
But on the other hand, i'm worried about what something like that would do to my liability. I have no wish to be a land lord over lots that would not bear revenue. Further, i guess another adjacent property owner has young children, and though i haven't talked to them, i can't but imagine they would be pleased.
In sum... i'd be happy to let them stay as long as a) i don't incur liability and b) i can have them evicted (forcibly if necessary) when i want.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  mkc1959 replied 1 year ago.

My main concern would be your liability. Although the squatter may appear to not be any trouble with the neighbors, if the squatter were to let a campfire get out of control, then I believe you could face a great deal of liability for property damage if the fire got off of your property.

As to adverse possession, the squatter has already entered the property and possibly has met the "adverse" condition. Just letting them stay at this point would not interrupt the adverse nature of the claim. Now there are other issues which they may never meet in order to prove title by adverse possession, but again without your intervention I think the claim would always be adverse. You could possibly meet them and make an agreement regarding safety and "contracting" with them to guard your property. The contract could then provide for them to vacate the property upon notice. This would then give you a more direct legal position to have them vacate if and when you sell or otherwise use the property.

Expert:  mkc1959 replied 1 year ago.

Please let me know what follow up questions you have.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
how much would you charge me to write up such a contract? something that would protect me as stated.
Expert:  mkc1959 replied 1 year ago.

I am not licensed to practice law in the State of Washington. So, unfortunately I cannot write a contract for you. I would suggest that you contact a local attorney to discuss the matter and get a contract drafted. Secondly, I will opt out of this so that you do not a fee for my response, and will see if a Washington licensed attorney will respond further to your situation.

Expert:  Dimitry Esquire replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your post. A different professional here.
I am likewise not licensed Washington state but I have drafted such contracts in the past. I can help with some terms and language so that you can draft this on your own, and I can review it, or I can draft a very general agreement that would be useful for you. For either option I want to be clear that I would not be acting as counsel to you, and helping you draft a template will not create an attorney/client relationship. Please advise if that is acceptable, and if yes, I would speak with you directly as an 'additional service' to negotiate costs.
Sincerely,
Dimitry, Esq.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
before i make my answer, can you tell me what the fee structure would be for this help? about how much are we talking?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
i'm trying to be nice, but if it's going to cost me a couple of hundred dollars, i think i'll just try to get them to vacate.
Expert:  Dimitry Esquire replied 1 year ago.

Hi,

It will likely be close to a couple of hundred dollars, and therefore it may be better to simply vacate them. Such contracts are not simple to draft because multiple issues have to be addressed, and there is also no guarantee that the current squatter will agree to sign them (so you may end up spending the funds on this agreement and never use it). This is your call, but it would likely be far cheaper to evict them from the premises, and will also be better for you from a liability perspective.

Sincerely,

Dimitry, Esq.

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