Is your name/title/business really Justice Smiles???

That’s really awesome and sort of inspirational! Nicely done!

Well, I’ve got a quick Q for you Mr. Smiles.

Can I pose a theoretical question to you? Let’s say I had been living/camping on another’s property in Washington state (Whidbey Island, theoretically…), and the neighbor’s knew about it and I was always very pleasant and trimmed the grass and took care of the apple trees, although never entering the house and garage on the premises, and this went on for seven years, like the good RCW 7.28.070 code says that it’s long enough to ‘claim’ as an adverse possession?

Would I theoretically provide proof and written statements from neighbors or pictures or stamp collections to the court to prove that I should indeed posses this property?

Would I still qualify for this possession if I didn’t pay taxes on it? But if I had saved up enough to pay off the seven years, could that work?

Sorry loads of questions and hopefully you have some free time to help.

Cheers and may Justice continue to smile on!

OK pal, I’m going to answer your theoretical question.


First, did you happen to read RCW 7.28.070? There is nothing in the fact pattern to suggest that you paid the taxes on the property. But even if you had, notice that you need to be their “under claim and color of title, made in good faith”.

RCW 7.28.070 contemplates the situation in which there is some sort of goof surrounding the nature of the document or its transfer from one owner to another. If the purchaser “in good faith” believes that he or she owns the property, actually possesses the property, and pays taxes for 7 years on the property, notwithstanding the initial foul up, the property is theirs.

As a practical matter, this statute is very rarely applicable. What’s more now with RCW 7.28.083, any seller who thinks they can try to unwind a sale after a 7 year period has run its course would be well advised to just give it up and sign a quit claim deed to assure that everything is cleaned up properly and they don’t have attorney’s fees and costs shifted upon them.

Second, your fact pattern indicates permissive use instead of an exertion of any superior claim to the land. Permission nullifies adverse possession and as of April 16 of this year unless you are able to show exclusivity, characterizing your case as one of prescriptive easement will torpedo your ambitions because a legal presumption of permission is thrust upon you per the case Gamboa v. Clark. [1]

Finally for me – but not other arguments – how do you think it is “Just” for you to defect in this situation and seek to steal this land? The answer is: It’s not! You might try it. But certainly not with me and almost just as certainly you will be broken by the attempt as a result.

In that you are “theoretically” on an orchard, perhaps you should forget this legal question and instead contemplate the intricacies of the legal questions raised in the 1999 movie The Cider House Rules. [2]

[1] See original filing of Gamboa v. Clark [HERE ].

[2] See Roger Ebert’s review of The Cider House Rules [HERE].