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Real Estate

Can I Cut my Neighbor’s Trees?

Trees are beautiful and provide many benefits. Who doesn’t like trees? But trees are also a common subject of disputes between neighbors. Complaints can range from trees blocking views or sunshine, trees being too tall and in danger of falling, or trees growing over property lines.

When someone doesn’t like a neighbor’s tree, the first question they have is can they cut it down.

The general answer is obvious. No, you cannot go onto your neighbor’s property and cut their trees. But there are some… Continue reading

I Bought a House and the Sellers did not Disclose Defects to Me. Can I Sue the Sellers?

The biggest purchase people make in their lives is often their house. Buying a house can be stressful. It also comes with a lot of unknowns. Buyers do not get many opportunities to inspect a house before buying it. So, there is risk that once you buy a home you will discover problems you did not know about.

When people discover problems with a home they bought, they often want to know if they can sue the seller for failing to disclose the problems. As… Continue reading

Considerations for Accessory Dwelling Units in Whatcom County

Accessory dwelling units (or ADUs for short) are currently a topic of much discussion and many new laws in Whatcom County. An ADU is an attached or detached dwelling unit sharing a property with a single-family home. Examples of ADUs include mother-in-law suites, backyard cottages, garden suites, granny flats, garage apartments, and laneway houses. ADUs provide homeowners extra income, give renters more rental options, and help alleviate some pressure on cities to sprawl. They are also cause for concern among those who are wary of… Continue reading


Many real estate disputes involve easements. These disputes can often involve the location of an easement, the scope and purpose of an easement, and even whether an easement exists at all.


But what exactly is an easement? An easement is merely the right to use another person’s property for a specific purpose. It is not an ownership interest in another person’s property. The most common type of easement is an easement for access to a parcel of property, which is often called an easement… Continue reading

Legalized Marijuana in Washington: Difficult Issues for Commercial Landlords

With the passage of I-502 and the development of a regulatory framework for legalized growing and retail sale of marijuana in Washington, several issues have emerged for landlords who may be asked to lease premises to producers (“growers”), processors, and retail sellers.

First, a major issue that  must be remembered is that possession and sale of marijuana remains illegal under federal law.  Indeed, one who is knowingly involved in the possession or sale of marijuana may be an accomplice or conspirator under federal… Continue reading

Options in Enforcement of Loans Secured by Real Property

In simple terms, a loan that is documented by a promissory note and nothing else is an “unsecured” loan, and a loan that gives the lender lien rights in property, by way of a mortgage, assignment, or pledge, is a “secured” loan.  Being a secured lender is generally highly preferred to being an unsecured lender because rights in property increase the likelihood of collectability.

Many lenders make loans that are documented by both promissory notes and by security interests in real property. The type… Continue reading

Transfers of Interests in Entities Owning Real Estate: Is Real Estate Excise Tax Due?

In Washington, when title to real estate is transferred from one owner to another, Real Estate Excise Tax, or REET, is generally payable to the State at the time of the transaction.

For the purpose of attempting to limit liability, it is often recommended that investors hold title to real estate in a separate legal entity, such as a limited liability company.  And, when title to real estate is held in such an entity, it is often the case that members wish to transfer… Continue reading

To Disclose or Not To Disclose Defects When Selling Property

Washington law requires a person selling real estate to fill out what is commonly called the “Seller Disclosure Statement” and provide that statement to the buyer. The form requires the seller to answer questions on various topics such as defects in water sources and systems, sewer or septic systems, structural issues, electrical and heating systems, and environmental issues. The form includes “yes”, “no”, or “don’t know” boxes for the seller to check for each question. The form can be found online in Revised Code of… Continue reading

Purchasing Property with Environmental Contamination

Environmental pollution is regulated by many different levels of government, such as local, state and federal levels.  Also, depending upon the type of pollutant and where that pollutant is found, more than one set of laws can apply.  This makes determining who is responsible for environmental clean-up time consuming, expensive and frustrating. 

The havoc that laws relating to environmental pollution can inflict is illustrated by the liability imposed by the Washington Model Toxic Controls Act (“MTCA”).  The MTCA allows a person… Continue reading

Providing Notice of Construction Defect Claims

In 2002, the Washington State Legislature passed a law requiring that a property owner give notice to a contractor before the owner can file a lawsuit against the contractor for construction defects.  This notice is required for defects caused in the construction of a residence (a single-family house, duplex, triplex, quadraplex, or a unit in a multiunit residential structure) or in the substantial remodel of a residence.

Specifically, according to chapter 64.50 RCW, before a construction defect lawsuit can be brought against a contractor,… Continue reading