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Katie Jean Comstock
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Katie Comstock’s Answers

117 total


  • What options do we have to legally remove/trim trees on vacant property?

    The house next door to us has been vacant for six years, and is currently bank owned. They have several huge evergreen trees in their yard, within 2 feet of our fence. I know that we can legally trim trees that overhang onto our property, but due ...

    Katie’s Answer

    I recommended providing the bank written notice by certified mail notifying the bank that the tree or trees on its property are dying and that under Washington law, if the trees were to fall and damage your property the bank would be liable for damages. I also recommend looking into your local jurisdiction's laws to see if there are any codes or regulations addressing unhealthy trees.

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  • Will adverse possession apply for us?

    We bought our home 4 years ago. The home was built in 2007, and the previous owners built a fence and put up shrubs on what they believed were the property lines. New owners just bought the lot next to us and are demoing the house/rebuilding- and ...

    Katie’s Answer

    Typically, the property needs to have been adversely possessed by your and your predecessors in interest for a period of ten years or more. If the home was built in 2007, it does not seem that you have met the ten year statute of limitations. You can trigger the seven year statute of limitations, if you can prove that you and your predecessors in interest of possessed the property under a color of title. "Color of title" means that there is a legally filed document that gives the appearance of actual legal title.

    Separately, there is case law that allows a court to fix a different remedy where it would be unequitable for you to remove the encroaching structures and vegetation where it would be a huge expense to you, and the loss of land is of very little consequence to the neighbor. In that context, you would like need to purchase the property that you are claiming title to.

    It is possible you may also have claims against other parties for misrepresenting the boundaries of your property, such as the seller or a surveyor if one was hired as part of the purchase. I recommend reviewing your facts with a real estate attorney to see if there are any arguments that allow you to maintain your fence and shrubbery.

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  • Just found out a neighborhood street is a private road, who pays for repairs?

    We bought a house 8 years ago, and when our street was annexed in to Kirkland city limits we discovered we lived on a private road. We are right in the middle of a sea of homes, and apparently our street is the only one that is private. Only 2 h...

    Katie’s Answer

    It depends in part on how the road is owned and used. Arguably, all owners of the road have a duty to keep the road in good working order. Further, a court applying recent case law may find that all owners that use and benefit from the road also have a duty to keep the road in good working. I recommend obtaining the recorded documents which describe the ownership of the road and reviewing those with a real estate attorney to determine your next steps.

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  • Can we do anything about the water damage in the past or just the future? The neighbors were it comes from were told 5 days ago.

    I live on a lot with a sloped backyard and have had some drainage issues in the past but this year it was bad. The lots on all sides are more level and drain onto our property. We had planned to have some retaining walls and drainage upgrades do...

    Katie’s Answer

    If you have the elements for a continuing trespass you can get damages that arose the prior three years before filing suit. However, you should be aware that under Washington's Common Enemy Doctrine the neighboring properties are only liable for water run-off under limited circumstances. I have included an article from our website discussing this doctrine and the exceptions you may fall under. I recommend you consult with an attorney to determine if you have any claims and when those claims may be time-barred right away.

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  • What are the legal options to sue our roofing contractor?

    We have a 20 year contract on our roof but the contractor who did the installation recently sold to another company. They are refusing to fix our roof stating the prior warranties are now void.

    Katie’s Answer

    The general rule is that a successor company is not liable for its predecessor's debts. However, there are a few exceptions that may apply. Further, if the prior company only recently went out of business you may be able to pursue a claim against that company's insurance policy. I recommend you review your case with an attorney to see if you still have potential claims.

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  • Looking to hire: What kind of lawyer can be used to help a condo association or board to dispute codes imposed by the city?

    Need someone who can help board to work with the city, attend hearings etc as needed Code was imposed by city of Bellevue fire marshall in 2004 but late notice was given to the board of getting this work done which involves a lot of the reserve ...

    Katie’s Answer

    I agree with the prior answer. You should look for a real estate attorney with experience with construction defect claims and association governance. You can use the "Find a Lawyer" tab to find local attorneys. My office is able to help with these types of matters.

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  • What rights do we have as far as the driveway ? If there isn't a recorded easement, can we stop all access via the driveway ?

    We live on a 5 acre piece of land in unincorporated King County. There is a detached shop/garage on the neighbors property. I've been told that the neighbor has an easement to use part of our property to access the garage. There is a private r...

    Katie’s Answer

    If your title company is correct, and there is no recorded easement against your property and further there is no mention of an easement on the plat for your properties, then there is no express easement. However, your neighbor may still have an implied easement or an easement by prescription. Easements by prescription are created by (1) actual use of another’s land in a way one might use
    an easement, over a uniform route, which is (2) open and notorious (3) hostile, (4) continuous
    and (5) exclusive. To establish an easement implied from prior use, or what is sometime simply referred to as an implied easement, the following elements of proof are required: 1) a landowner conveys part of
    his land and (2) retains part, usually an adjoining parcel; (3) before the conveyance, there was a
    usage existing between the parcel conveyed and the parcel retained that, had the two parts then
    been separately owned, could have been an easement appurtenant to one part; (4) this usage is
    reasonably necessary to the use of the part to which it would have been appurtenant; and (5) the
    usage is “apparent.” There are also easements by necessity which usually apply to landlocked parcels. The analysis of whether or not your neighbors have an implied or prescriptive easement, is highly factual. I highly recommend contacting an attorney to review the particular facts of your case. If you do want to prevent the neighbor from using the easement and remove any potential claims to your property, the attorney can help you in filing an ejectment and quiet title action.

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  • Storm related questions

    Secondary to storm , my tree fell to the neighbor's private road. Questions are 1) who is responsible BY STATURE to remove the tree - me or neighbor? 2) in case the neighbor did cut the tree to pieces ( about 30 cubic yards of fire wood ) a...

    Katie’s Answer

    You are likely responsible for the damage to your neighbor's property if you knew of should have known that the tree would fall. For example, if there were signs that the tree was dying and you ignored those signs and then the tree fell due to the fact it was weak/sick/damaged then you may be liable. In that case, it is possible the liability portion of your homeowner's policy may help cover any claims made against you by your neighbor. However, if this is simply an unexpected event then you are likely not responsible and your neighbor may be able to make a claim on their own insurance policy. It may be worth consulting with a real estate attorney to discuss your possible defenses and insurance coverage issues.

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  • Who is right? Tree in my yard fell

    I have a tree in my backyard that landed on my neighbor's house. I asked my insurance and she said by law, my neighbor's insurance company needs to take care of that because it doesn't matter who's yard the tree is in. Who is right?

    Katie’s Answer

    You may be liable if you knew that the tree may fall onto your neighbor's property, or knew that the tree was dying or otherwise unsafe, and you did nothing to prevent the tree from falling on your neighbor's property. In that case your neighbor could assert a claim for negligence against you and you may be able to find coverage under the liability portion of your policy. Absent similar facts, you and your insurer are not responsible for the damage to your neighbor's property and the neighbor should make a claim against their own insurance policies.

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  • Lawyer filed wrongful lis pendens, does not exist, no court case(s) filed. 1 year old. Need dismissed.

    When pulling title insurance or records from county auditor/recorder, it shows that a lawsuit was filed in court, along with an affidavit. This is a completely crap move on the lawyers part, because he did not file any such thing with any courts (...

    Katie’s Answer

    I agree with the prior answers, because of the very real possibility that the attorney or party that filed the lis pendens when no action was pending will have to pay your attorneys' fees it is possible that the attorney or party may remove it without you needing to file an action. If you need the lis pendens removed immediately, you may be able to file a quick show cause hearing with the court, or see if the title company would take a letter from an attorney that the lis pendens is improper in order to move forward with the lis pendens still on title.

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