Boundary Line Adjustments In Washington State – Update
Posted Jan 22, 2020
By Washington State Business & Real Estate Lawyer William O. Kessler
In 2013, I wrote an article touting the “Friendly Quiet Title” as a more efficient means of adjusting your boundary line, when compared to a city/county boundary line adjustment (“BLA”). In recent years, the time and money savings of a Friendly Quiet Title have only increased when compared to the BLA.
For example, as of January 2020, King County’s base BLA fee is up to $3,615. Add a degree of complexity (such as vacant land or land with critical areas), and the base fee increases to $5,568. These fees will presumably continue climbing over time. In addition, if the county requires a plan re-submittal – and it very frequently does – they charge an additional fee of 25% of the original base fee. Worse, King County currently takes between 1 year and 1.5 years to decide BLAs. Finally, even if you wait all that time, the county/city may ultimately deny the BLA for one of several unanticipated reasons – wasting all that time and leaving you in the same position you were in before initiating the BLA process.
Now more than ever, the solution is… litigation? Absolutely. An agreed, or “friendly,” lawsuit can resolve issues such as encroachments, large or small. The settlement can move any boundary line to a new location agreed by the neighbors, with whatever payment arrangement the neighbors deem appropriate. Once the Superior Court enters the stipulated (agreed) Order, the line is adjusted – fully and finally. The entire process typically takes only a few weeks. In short, Friendly Quiet Title suits are much faster, less expensive, and more certain than city/county BLAs.
By the way, a quick follow-up to the above-linked article regarding RCW 58.04.007 (regarding a contract to adjust the boundary line): Title insurance companies continue to regularly refuse insurance on these transactions. As a practical matter, this refusal imperils your ability to sell and/or borrow against your property. For example, you and your neighbor could follow the statutory procedure in RCW 58.04.007 to the letter, only to see your buyer unable to obtain a loan, or your own refinance declined. Neighbors wishing to adjust their boundary lines should avoid RCW 58.04.007, period.
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