My girlfriend's parents live on the water in Washington State. They erected a small pier some 13 years ago (maybe not enough for the statutory period, I'm not sure). Their neighbors who have lived next door for 11 or 12 of those years is now saying the pier overhangs their property by a couple feet (it is a T shaped pier). The same neighbors used to let their kids play on the it!
I have some questions:
--Do the same property laws apply to water? Isn't water usually public? Or are property lines arbitrarily extended straight out into the water for some distance? Would a survey or plat somehow indicate the area of water ownership if some of the water is owned? Is that typical? (Sidenote: I believe the county came to inspect the pier and approved it according to county codes.)
--If there was prior acknowlegement from the previous neighbor that the extension into the 'property' was OK with them, can this prevent the current landowner from having any issue? If the previous neighbor didn't inform the current neighbor of the 'encumberance', maybe it doesn't hold. But we don't know if that's the case or not. And I assume that any prior agreement would really need to be recorded in writing...
--Is there a way to mediate the issue (short of moving the pier or chopping off a couple feet) without surveys and lawyers, given the fact that the neighbor is being a bit difficult about the situation (after 12 years!!!)? Granted, I'm sure a survey is warranted to at least have all the facts.
Thanks in advance!!