May 18, 2020

Washington Court of Appeals Rules in Favor of Tree Nuisance Claim

A property owner brought a nuisance action against her neighbors because the branches of a cedar tree on their property extended over her property, dropped leaves and needles on it, and threatened to damage her home.  The Court of Appeals ruled that the owner presented enough evidence in support of her claim to defeat her neighbors' motion to summarily dismiss it without a trial.  

RCW 7.48.010 defines an actionable nuisance as "whatever is injurious to health or indecent or offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property, so as to essentially interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of the life and property." The Court noted that tree branches extending over adjoining land can constitute a nuisance, but it pointed out that damages must be proved in order to support a legal claim. In this case, the plaintiff presented evidence that the tree branches shed profusely on her yard and interfered with her use and enjoyment of the property. She also presented evidence that the size and location of the tree's branches posed an increasing danger to her home. As a result, the Court ruled that her nuisance claim must be allowed to proceed to trial.

May 8, 2020

Community Association Presentation for Washington Secretary of State's Office

I will be leading an electronic presentation concerning community associations for the Washington Secretary of State's Office on June 15 at 10:00 a.m.  I will provide an overview of the legal issues that affect those associations, including the scope of the Washington Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act ("WUCIOA") and coronavirus-related concerns.

May 4, 2020

Washington Court of Appeals Prevents Covenant Enforcement Due to Delay

The Washington Court of Appeals recently decided in an unpublished opinion that the legal doctrine of laches prevented an owner of real property from obtaining relief based on a claim that the owner of neighboring property violated covenants governing both properties.  Laches is an implied waiver arising from knowledge of existing conditions and acquiescence in them. It is in effect neglect for an unreasonable length of time under circumstances permitting diligence to do what in law should have been done.  

The legal elements of laches are inexcusable delay and prejudice to the other party from such delay. The plaintiff in this case waited twenty years after his neighbor's home and barn were built before asserting that they violated protective covenants. The Court ruled that this delay and the resulting harm to his neighbor if his claim were allowed to prevail mandated dismissal.