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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Attorney
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 32735
Experience:  Began practicing law in 1992
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I just bought a piece of land in Texas on a lake controlled

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I just bought a piece of land in Texas on a lake controlled by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The previous owner had put a freestanding deck, some bird houses, and some landscaping timbers and other minor improvements on the Corps property. The park ranger for the Corps saw these before the sale took place and took no action against the prior owner. Now he's calling me telling me I have to remove those improvements. Can they make me do that? Since he knows I was not the one who put them there can he (the Park Ranger representing the Federal Government) compel me to remove them?
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 5 months ago.

Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to helping you today.

Yes, he can. The fact that you own the land is enough to give them jurisdiction over you. If you want to go to the trouble of hiring a lawyer and suing then there are some defenses you can use that would have a good chance of working. They are all based on a form of "waiver", but the specific defenses are waiver, laches, and consent along with, possibly, statute of limitations. Essentially what you would be arguing is that since the government knew that the prior owners had created all of these items and chose not to do anything and therefore they can't do anything now.

These are what are known as affirmative defenses which admit there is a violation but states the violation should be overlooked.

If your question has been answered then I'd offer my best wishes to you and ask that you please not forget to leave a Positive Rating so I receive credit for my work. Of course, please feel free to ask any follow up questions in this thread. I want to be sure that all of your questions are answered.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
the government can make me spend time and money taking things off the federal land that I did not put there just because my property is adjacent? Does the prior owner have any legal responsibility to the government?
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 5 months ago.

So the government can make me spend time and money taking things off the federal land that I did not put there just because my property is adjacent?

Unfortunately, yes.

Does the prior owner have any legal responsibility to the government?

The government could, in theory, clean the spot up themselves and then sue him for the cost. However, that's not likely to happen since they can go against you and make you clean it up. You may be able to sue him for the cost of your having to do clean up though.

Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 5 months ago.

You say that your land is "adjacent". Do you mean the things they are telling you to remove are not on land you own?

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Neither option being worth the hassle! I'll take care of it but I don't have to like it! :)
Thank you for your help today
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 5 months ago.

You're very welcome and I wish I had better news for you but the government is tough to work with, particularly the Corps of Engineers.

If your question has been answered then I'd offer my best wishes to you and ask that you please not forget to leave a Positive Rating so I receive credit for my work. Of course, please feel free to ask any follow up questions in this thread. I want to be sure that all of your questions are answered.

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