Does my neighbor's porch against the property line constitute a prescriptive easement?

My neighbor's side porch is built up to the property line (i.e. there is zero setback). There is about 10 feet between that porch and our house - it's just entirely our 10 feet. Our neighbors mentioned they "have an easement" that says their porch is okay but no such easement is recorded on our property (according to our title insurance). Are they in violation of the zoning code (no setback) or could they somehow argue they have a prescriptive easement? Or is there any adverse possesion of setback space or something?

Seattle, WA -

Attorney Answers (3)

Michael Duane Daudt

Michael Duane Daudt

Real Estate Attorney - Seattle, WA
Answered

There is no "prescriptive easement" or "adverse possession" involved in the situation that you describe. If the porch was built before the setback requirement came into effect, it would be "grandfathered." Otherwise, it is just an existing code violation which is subject to enforcement.

Lisa Marie Hammel

Lisa Marie Hammel

Lawsuit / Dispute Attorney - Bothell, WA
Answered

As I understand the facts as you outlined, the neighbor's porch is built up to the property line --- it does not encroach on your property. If that is the case, then you would not expect to find an easement recorded on your property. If you are concerned that the location of the porch in relation to the property line may be a zoning violation, you should contact your city or County code enforcement office. As an aside, this may not be the best action to facilitate good neighbor relations.

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Thomas A. Mackin

Thomas A. Mackin

Family Law Attorney - Sammamish, WA
Answered

I generally agree with Mr. Daudt's advice. I would add, however, depending upon how recently the property has been surveyed, there could "possibly" be an easement issue. I would also investigate to determine if any easement has been recorded since the purchase. Good luck.

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