Question: What would your reaction be if you were looking at Facebook photos posted by relatives and noticed a deck had been built on your property?
Here’s the story:
My brother and I have owned a piece of property jointly since 1995. Our mom quit claimed it to us. It’s in Robe, Wash. It’s been in the family since the 1930s. My grandfather bought 10 acres along the Stillaguamish River and gave parcels to his three kids (my mom was one) and to his sisters.
Robe is a beautiful, magical place. It’s pristine. There’s no running water or electricity. My dad designed a cabin in 1959 before I was born. My mom and dad, with their own two hands, built the cabin that has given me some of my best childhood memories. Fishing at dawn for breakfast trout. Snuggled into our mummy bags listening to the roaring fire at night. Floating down the rapids with friends. Jumping off the giant rock into the deep swimming hole.
About 15 years ago, my brother and I had the cabin torn down. It was falling apart. Someone had trashed the interior and lit the floor on fire. The roof was leaking. It was a liability and was inviting trouble. We left the fireplace. Some relatives hauled it off in exchange to access to our property which my brother arranged. I thought he had paid a service to do it.
Although the extended family — I have no clue who most of them are these days — have their own lots, ours is where they gather for an annual reunion. I go from time to time. They prefer our lot because our property faces the swimming hole in the river with a big rock. There used to be a sandy beach, too.
Now here’s the question of whether someone has gone too far. I was glancing at photos on facebook from the recent family reunion that I was unable to attend. This is a photo of a deck on my lot. I’ve never seen it before. Nobody asked me if they could build it. Apparently it was for a distant relative’s wedding — that I didn’t know about. My brother knows nothing about any of this either.
What are your thoughts of somebody building on your property without your knowledge or permission? Or holding a wedding?
First, I would make sure than an permits necessary were pulled. You could be on the hook for any fines. Second, make sure that nobody is trying to squat. Not all squatters live on the property. Many do “improvements” to the lot and then file for ownership based on their “improvements”. Every State has different rights. If their is no legal action taken to usurp ownership, I would remove the dock and take it back to it’s original state, or. as a minimum. consult a local real estate attorney.
Thank you for the advice. I think my brother and I need to remove it ASAP. I found another FB thread where they were talking about all the improvements they want to make to our land. Put in a storage unit. Some sort of gazebo. A small cabin or compartment. I told them we want NOTHING put or build on our land. Period.
Not sure who “they” are that want to make improvements, but I would almost bet they are trying to take ownership. Make sure you have “no trespassing” signs posted, monitor the deed, and if $$ allows, hire a property manager to “maintain” the property.
They are relatives that I don’t know. A few generations removed from my grandfather’s sisters.
My advice (and opinion of the situation) has not changed. Who makes substantial, costly improvements to land not deeded to them?
Agreed. And I’m an absentee owner living several states away.
Pretty piece of property. FB is very useful!
It is beautiful up there. Mainly because it’s an hour from Seattle yet it’s completely natural and pristine.
An hour from Seattle? Hmmm..so South would be on the Sound near Tacoma, North would be near Canada, and East would be Snoqualmie.
North near a small town called Granite Falls.
Although I’d like to think the best of my fellow humans, I am often disappointed. I think theearthspins has given you excellent advice.
Thanks for the comment. It doesn’t hurt to be cautious and prepared.
I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this. Your property is stunning. I loved reading the stories about your grandparents, the drawings by your grandmother, and the picture of you. I can tell how important this land is to you and your brother.
Do you and your brother want to build on this property someday?
My brother and I initially did after we tore down the cabin. Now we’ve decided to keep it pristine and natural. Unfortunately the clan doesn’t have that same vision.