Kunto (D) had property that they used for a summer home on Hood Canal.
The land where Kunto's house was built did not belong to him; because of surveying errors, the land Kunto occupied was not the same as the land described on his deed.
The entire neighborhood had the same issue; the land that people owned was not the same as the land they built on. As a result, Howard (P) owned land where Moyer's house sat. Moyer owned land where Kunto's house sat.
Howard gave Moyer the deed to the property he owned in return for the deed to the land that Moyer owned (where Kunto's house was).
Howard instituted an action to quiet title and take possession of Kunto's land; Kunto made a cross-claim to take possession of the land through adverse possession.
Trial court found for P (Howard), granted his quiet title claim.
WA COA reversed, found for D (Kunto), granted Kunto his land through adverse possession.
Is a claim of adverse possession defeated because the physical use of the premises is restricted to summer occupancy?
May a person who receives record title to tract A under the mistaken belief that he has title to tract B (immediately contiguous to tract A) adversely possess tract B through his and his immediate predecessor's possession?
A claim of adverse possession is not defeated if the physical use of the premises is restricted to summer occupancy since to hold otherwise would ignore the nature and condition of the property.
A person who receives record title to tract A under the mistaken belief that he has title to tract B (immediately contiguous to tract A) may adversely possess tract B through his and his immediate predecessor's possession as long as the possessor is not a wrongdoer or trespasser.
RCW 4.16.020 allows adverse possession when the claimant and his immediate predecessor occupied the premises as if it was their own for 10 years.
The normal rule is that to constitute adverse possession, there must be actual possession which is uninterrupted, open and notorious, hostile and exclusive, and under a claim of right made in good faith for the statutory period.
This rule is one of substance and not of absolute mathematical continuity.
Possession, as required for adverse possession, is conduct of holding, managing, and caring for property as do owners of like property. Since like owners use such property as summer homes, Kunto's use of the property was proper possession.
Tacking of adverse possession is usually only permitted if the successive occupants are in privity.
The privity requirement had its roots in the notion that a succession of trespasses should not, in equity, be allowed to defeat the record title. "A squatter should not be able to profit from his trespasses."
There is substantial difference between the squatter and the property purchaser who, along with several of his neighbors, possesses land 50 feet from where he should due to a faulty survey.
There is a strong public policy favoring early certainty as to the location of land ownership which enters into a proper interpretation of privity.
The irregular parameters of the area make exact surveys difficult and expensive. It should not be expected that every landowner must undertake such a survey to ascertain his boundaries.
The technical requirement of privity should not be used to upset long periods of occupancy by those who in good faith received an erroneous deed description.
The privity requirement is no more than judicial recognition of the need for some reasonable connection between successive occupants of real property so as to raise their claim of right above the status of trespassers.