Oakland, CA asked in Land Use & Zoning and Real Estate Law for California

Q: My mom has a neighbor that is building a structure on land that belongs to her. How do we stop it?

Also does the neighbor have an squatting rights to her land?

1 Lawyer Answer
Amanda M. Rokita
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  • Real Estate Law Lawyer
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: An unauthorized trespass on another person’s property is called an encroachment. First, one must confirm that the area of land in dispute is in fact owned by your mother. This can be done by hiring a professional surveyor to survey the land to confirm the property boundaries.

Once it is confirmed that there is an encroachment on the property, I suggest your mother speak to the neighbor and let them know that they are encroaching upon her property and ask them to remove the structure or stop building on the land. Another option is to sell or lease that portion of the land to the neighbor. If the neighbor is unwilling to cooperate, then a quiet title action may be filed in court. A quiet title action asks the court to determine who has title to the property.

When the owner of land does not exercise his right to prohibit others from using his land, a prescriptive easement can be created. To establish a prescriptive easement, the possessor must 1) use the land 2) in a manner that is open and notorious, 3) use must be hostile and adverse to the owner of the land, 4) use must be continuous and uninterrupted, 5) used under a claim of right to the property, and 6) the use must be for the statutory period of five years.

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