Basics of Quieting Title


Recently, I was involved in a mediation which raised an important point about what to do when you are putting up a fence. I thought I would take a moment to spell out some basics so that you don’t end up with a mess ten years down the road.

The overarching point is spelled out


Adverse possession is a law which allows an owner of land to do two things (1) disallow stale claims for the ownership of the totality of the property and (2) to claim ownership of land which is beyond the titular bounds of a legal description as determined by surveyors after having conducted a retracement survey.

justice-smiles-green-large.pngA repeatedly misunderstood concept which occurs in a legal contests involving adverse possession is the difference between perfection and recognition.

Perfection is what happens in the vast majority of cases when all of the elements of adverse possession have been satisfied. For my jurisdiction of Washington State, this is actual possession which is (a) open

justice-smiles-green-large.pngReversionary Interests are used to provide for changed uses of the land if a pre-defined event occurs. This is very similar to a license which ceases to be effective at the time of real property disposition by sale or death – but another “trigger” may be used to allow or cause the transfer.

The legal

justice-smiles-green-large.pngJust as with a Quit Claim Deed, the surveyor has been out and the title line and current line of occupation don’t line up. Your wallet isn’t lined with an extra several $10,000s to sort out the issue. Moreover, so long as your neighbor doesn’t try to later hornswoggle you, you do realize that

justice-smiles-green-large.pngA Quit Claim Deed (“QCD”) for the titled boundary holder provides a permanent resolution with the greatest ease. The time and cost associated with its production – once having become the agreed solution – are also the lowest of all remedy methods.

Also, if this approach can be established instead of a lawsuit, the signal

justice-smiles-green-large.pngSurveyor has been out and now you either want to tear your neighbors’ heads off because they have “stolen” your land (i.e. you are the title holder who believes you are being short-changed). Or perhaps you have “always owned” land beyond what the surveyor indicates and you darn well want to make sure to protect