Protecting Your Interests In Real Estate

Failure to file paperwork in a timely fashion erased a private landowner's right to oppose construction of a natural gas pipeline across his property in Oregon. A group of 21 additional landowners also sought reconsideration of the pipeline project, but a state agency denied their application for a hearing. A recent law change provided automatic approval of the pipeline project, much to the dismay of the property owners.

Just outside of Portland, a farmer has been watching new development eat away at farms just like his as the metro area expands. However, this landowner took legal action years before it was needed by using a conservation easement to protect his property. This federally recognized agreement is permanently attached to the deed for his property and prohibits alterations that would destroy its natural resources.

Protect your land and avoid real property disputes

Owning land is like holding a bundle of sticks. For each piece of property, there are rights and entitlements, which can be "pulled out" and transferred. One of the sticks - easements - are rights that give rights to certain individuals to use property. Frequently, these rights are nothing more complicated than giving your neighbor a driveway easement across your land to access a road. But, sometimes they can be used as an effective way to protect your use of your property.

Where a third party is seeking to encroach on your property or use, an easement, encroachment agreement or other type of land use agreement may give you security regarding you rights to your commercial or residential property, and may even provide financial compensation for access or use of your land. Unfortunately, disputes over access and use of your property may arise no matter how diligent you are.

Title disputes can occur at any time during ownership or during a real estate transaction. A survey during a purchase may reveal an encroachment or a restrictive covenant, both of which can interfere with your proposed use of the property. As a buyer in Oregon or Washington, you will obtain title insurance to protect against title defects after the transfer is complete but insurance will not always relieve the ensuing headaches if an issue arises.

Recreational users and agricultural landowners often go head-to-head over land use issues. In an effort to protect rights of farmers in Oregon, the state legislature passed a bill earlier this year that requires conditional use permits for recreational trails. The permit process, however, is at odds with legal interpretations of land use laws by other state agencies and with many county rules. Hundreds of miles of trails are already in existence in farm zones throughout the state, many using established easements and permitted corridors.

There are many options available to property owners and, in order to find an option that best fits your situation, seek experienced legal advice. Identifying a potential area of dispute and addressing it right away may help you - and your heirs - avoid future issues.

Seek legal counsel

If you own property in Washington or Oregon, consult a knowledgeable real estate attorney when you have questions regarding your rights or if an easement or encroachment dispute arises. An experienced lawyer will educate you about your options and will help guide you to the best solution for your unique circumstances.