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Built on Wrong Property
37

Built on Wrong Property

Built on Wrong Property

(OP)
https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/hawaii-property...

This seemed more like a failure than a pub discussion. Developer and builder construct home on the wrong property and sue property owner to give up ownership.

Isn't this why we hire qualified surveyors and designers? To make sure things are done correctly, I would never dream of just thinking, "yep, this looks like the property."

RE: Built on Wrong Property

Gee how would permitting go? Well you did not have a permit to build on this property.

RE: Built on Wrong Property

Like 90 something % of Oklohoma. If it's a native Hawaiian landowner, probably not going to go well for them. But no. The owner is from out of state, California. So, that isn't a good thing for her. She has also refused to trade for an equal property next door, so that might be a sign of being unreasonable, under the circumstances. And ... The county did approve the build. It will be awhile before this comes to an end.


--Einstein gave the same test to students every year. When asked why he would do something like that, "Because the answers had changed."

RE: Built on Wrong Property

Are you trying to say Oklahoma?, or some place name in Hawaiian? What is 90%? Homes built on the wrong property?

RE: Built on Wrong Property

2
(OP)
I've heard of this happening before, but I'm not sure on what the legal precedents are. I think the property owner should sue for trespass and destruction of private property, at a minimum. Force the developer and builder to remove the house, and restore the property to its original condition.

Why should the property owner be forced to trade for a different lot? That is the lot they purchased, because that is the lot they want.

RE: Built on Wrong Property

Steve Lehto had a good video on this, check Youtube.

RE: Built on Wrong Property

Right. Super SNAFU. Landowner rights or not, sometimes you just have to find the best way to solve a total FU and get on with life. Persuing lawsuits are not the best way to a happy life. She's going to lose a years sorting it out. And her land will no longer be sacred after wallowing in this kind of bad karma sh!t anyway. Only the lawyers win.

Really a $25,000 lot of 1 acre in Hawaii has got to be a total dump anyway. That won't even buy 2500 square feet here, and if it did, you really, really wouldn't want it. You'd have to spend a couple 100k cleaning it up. Sacred land??? I think we only have half the story.

--Einstein gave the same test to students every year. When asked why he would do something like that, "Because the answers had changed."

RE: Built on Wrong Property

if there was a construction loan, the financial institution is liable. a construction loan should not be issued without the proposed survey/plot plan showing ownership. the financial institution, developer, construction company, etc. (all parties) should have obtained a proposed survey, plot plan, of property showing ownership.

the alternative property, while a "solution", clearly is not acceptable.

location is Hawaii, so state laws apply.

clearly, incompetence is abundant in this case.

RE: Built on Wrong Property

$25k for an acre in Hawaii is reasonable if there is no road/water/power.
There is a lot of mountainous land that is very expensive to develop.
But was this negligence, incompetence, or malicious.
Did the builder choose where he did because it was nicer?

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
P.E. Metallurgy, consulting work welcomed

RE: Built on Wrong Property

The article mentions that a "real estate broker mistakenly sold the land"...which makes it sound like maybe there was a surveyor to map it out, but nobody ever did the research into the deed.

RE: Built on Wrong Property

Wow, that's cheap. It's like 20x that here. 0.5MM/acre, no view of mountains or ocean.

--Einstein gave the same test to students every year. When asked why he would do something like that, "Because the answers had changed."

RE: Built on Wrong Property

Quote:

Keaau Development Partnership’s attorney Peter S.R. Olson claimed the firm offered Reynolds a parcel of land of equal size, location and value in exchange for her land, or to sell the house to her at a discount, but she rejected the offer.

“I don't know what she's complaining about. Her property is appreciated by $450,000. And she's the victim in this?”

Yeah - she's also now on the hook for the property taxes on a house she didn't want or have to take out a loan to pay for a house she didn't want.

I wonder what course in law school so many lawyers take that teaches them to say stupid things.

Find a company to lift the house and move it to the correct property and then pay this woman to have the trees replaced.

RE: Built on Wrong Property

maybe she should just move into the house and refuse to leave or pay for anything.

RE: Built on Wrong Property

Her bills are obviously being sent to the address already. Isn't that all that is needed for proof of residency?

RE: Built on Wrong Property

The judge will find that a reasonable and fair offer was made and refused without overpowering reason. She's, or maybe her daughter, or both, are a nutt case. Take the trade. Dismissed.

--Einstein gave the same test to students every year. When asked why he would do something like that, "Because the answers had changed."

RE: Built on Wrong Property

No official mail is being sent to that address as her address of record is in California.

USPS will not deliver to abandoned homes so even junk mail is not going to be delivered there.

RE: Built on Wrong Property

2
The argument then is that no one owns property; anyone can come along, make an improvement, and then offer what they consider a fair swap and displace the not-really-an-owner. Take the trade or the legal system will be used to bankrupt you.

They could have offered to buy the land, but this amounts to extortion to get a parcel they would not have been able to have otherwise.

RE: Built on Wrong Property

6
She may be a nut case, but nut cases have rights too. The unused building has been vandalized by squatters, and was not to her liking anyway. The court should make her whole, but defining that is difficult. A judge does face difficult decisions.

RE: Built on Wrong Property

3x the value of the land (like 150k) and paying her taxes.is probably a more than fair settlement, but she's holding out for the 500k value.

Property rights are not written in gold. Even for nut cases. I can probably build a pipeline right through the middle of your house.

--Einstein gave the same test to students every year. When asked why he would do something like that, "Because the answers had changed."

RE: Built on Wrong Property

9

Quote:

She may be a nut case, but nut cases have rights too.

Why is "she" the nut case? She's the victim of corporate incompetence and belligerence. She neither asked for, nor wanted, an extraneous house on her land. She's being sued because the builder and their minions didn't do proper due diligence and they don't want to be on the hook for their screwup.

F' them and their high horse they're trying to ride in on; they get zero sympathy from me. All the fault is with the builder and they're trying to claim damages, so that's horseshite.

If it were me, at this point, I'd pay to demo the house and sue them for the cost of clearing my land of their dumped trash.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Built on Wrong Property

Just playing devil's advocate myself. I hate it when pipelines go through burial grounds and parkland. Just don't be surprised, whatever the final ruling is. It could go either way.
When (if) honest mistakes are made that the judge thinks have a fair solution, it's entirely plausible that's the way it will go. Both sides must be seen to be looking for a fair deal and actual damages must be proven in their claim. Let's just try to keep track of what eventually happens.

--Einstein gave the same test to students every year. When asked why he would do something like that, "Because the answers had changed."

RE: Built on Wrong Property

3
(OP)
If I had purchased property, and somebody else built a house on it, I'm not sure what I would do. I may follow these steps, not necessarily in order.

1. Call police
2. Call attorney
3. Invite the local TV crews to visit the site
4. Raise all kinds of commotion with the local building officials
5. Contact realtor board
6. Call all local surveying companies to discuss the situation
7. File lawsuits against builder, developer, realtor, title company, and anybody else I could think to sue
8. Contact the party from which I purchased the land to see what records they have
9. Contact the realtor that handled my purchase of the land

You want to buy me out of MY property that you illegally developed? It's going to cost you about 100 times what it's worth, just to make things get quiet again.

What would we say if somebody bought forested land, and a logging company came through and cleared it?

RE: Built on Wrong Property

There was a case in MI not long ago where a company cut down trees on a neighbors property to improve their view.
They ended up paying to replace mature trees and some additional considerations.
As I recall something total just over $500k.

These building cases usually involve fraud where someone 'sells' land that they don't own.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
P.E. Metallurgy, consulting work welcomed

RE: Built on Wrong Property

Quote:

These building cases usually involve fraud where someone 'sells' land that they don't own.

https://www.kiro7.com/news/trending/lot-owner-stun...

It's a pure screwup on the part of the developer and the contractor, on the face of it.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Built on Wrong Property

Tiger guy, that illustrates my point. The landowner was so uninvolved with her property that she took none of those actions, until the cat was out the door. In some jurisdictions in the world that alone would be grounds for forfiture of title. The most productive use of the land wins.

--Einstein gave the same test to students every year. When asked why he would do something like that, "Because the answers had changed."

RE: Built on Wrong Property

The thing I don't know here is what sort of official registration there is for land in Hawaii / US.

Here we have a land registry where all land which is bought or sold comes with registration and documentation and plans which defines what land you've bought (but not subsurface mineral rights or rights in the air above. Not all land is registered as some predates the register, but they are gradually getting there and any land bought or sold needs to be registered now. This register lays out any other agreements anyone else has to enter, cross or have things there ( like pipelines, power cables, water pipes etc) and lists the owner(s).

That is pretty much it. If someone else comes and builds something on land you own that is their problem not yours. There are ways where if the owner cannot be traced having given various investigations or notices then you can get it transferred, but only usually to local authorities or government departments building roads or similar infrastructure.

#this one from the video sounds like the kind of guessed which plot is was and didn't actually do a proper survey and only found out when trying to sell it that the plot coordinates or plans didn't match up. So just as well it wasn't sold as then the new owners would have bought a worthless house as they wouldn't have owned the land it sits on. It also says she ignored letters from the developer asking to buy her plot and ignored them. That's fair - I have a plot of land and get a letter very month or so from people wanting to buy it and Ignore them. If someone built a house on it I would not be happy... It would pretty much be cut and dried that I should not be out of pocket.

Remember - More details = better answers
Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: Built on Wrong Property

Spain can get messed up quickly. There is a system that many don't observe. Some old properties never have been registered. Sales made by handshake 150yrs ago. I was going to buy a millhouse dated back to 1640 in Galicia, millsite occupied since Roman times, until we found that the land registry had some other person listed, who died, no clear line of inheritance, as the owner of the canal that brought the water up to the house. They kept that info secret. I refused to buy it, as they could not produce clear title. What is a millhouse without clear title to water access? Then I lost my case when I sued them to get my 25k€ deposit back, appealed that ruling, and then 5yrs later lost again. Theoretically all of that should have been entered into the national registry, but the law was totally ignored. Buy it, or lose your deposit. A lot of places is really simple, if you occupy it, you own it. Everybody understands that system. It's the unrule of law that can really mess things up. If I understood that, I'd own a millhouse and be generating 3 kW by now.

--Einstein gave the same test to students every year. When asked why he would do something like that, "Because the answers had changed."

RE: Built on Wrong Property

Stateside you cannot purchase or inherit property without the municipality processing the deed so the registered owner is almost always correct, even if small boundary issues seemingly never get corrected. Historically our country also took great pride in surveying, soil mapping, and other land issues to help farmers.

Stateside the actual usage of the land is irrelevant as we prioritize individual rights so land swaps are rarely accepted nor forced. We have tons of land that sits idle as part of various conservation and ag programs. Its also not uncommon for loggers, contractors, developers, and even municipalities to complete large projects on the wrong land, and be ordered to restore the land to its prior state or pay a huge settlement. In most cases the entity simply disappears into bankruptcy but occasionally somebody has to spend millions.

RE: Built on Wrong Property

The problem in the US is often there is no title review, just title insurance. So who is really on the hook? The title insurance company. So she is fighting the insurance company.
Only the lawyers win here.

RE: Built on Wrong Property

Title has nothing to do with it. Nobody's arguing that she owns the lot, nor that the developer owns the adjoining lot. The screwup is with whoever marked the ground and told the trades "build here."

RE: Built on Wrong Property

And, somehow the previous owners of the property are at fault as well. How can that be, Ms Reynolds bought the lot at a tax auction?

Looks like plenty of screw-ups to go around :)

The problem with sloppy work is that the supply FAR EXCEEDS the demand

RE: Built on Wrong Property

3
The Lehto video in IRstuff's post cuts to the chase: the developer is off-base going after the lady who owns the land. They should move the house or tear it down, remediate the property and go after the team that did not identify the correct lot. Whether the lady is a little spacey or flighty is irrelevant to the failure and fault.

RE: Built on Wrong Property

As an attorney once described it me, they are obligated to sue everyone involved who might have shred of culpability or by whom there is a legal means of getting some sort of recompense. Because if they leave somebody off, their client can claim they were negligent and sue them for malpractice. So long as they don't cross the line into a truly frivolous lawsuit meant to harass or intimidate somebody, then they're just 'doing their job'. I don't like it, but as I understand it's not uncommon. Sort of like an HVAC problem on a new building and the entire design team gets named. The civil and structural engineers will likely get their names struck from the suit right away, but they were named because they were 'involved'. (And will still have to pay a few thousand dollars in attorneys' fees.)

RE: Built on Wrong Property

Attorneys are also ethically and legally bound to verify the validity of the client's claim/facts/circumstances before filing. Including extra defendants is a bit of an end-run, more bodies increases the likelihood of somebody being guilty.

RE: Built on Wrong Property

Quote:

The problem in the US is often there is no title review, just title insurance.

The title insurance comes after the title search; no title company is going to risk multiple payouts because they did a crappy job of title verification. I've bought 5 properties, and every one of them required a title company to verify the title and lack of encumbrances and liens against the properties.

When a development is new, the properties are often only identified by the developer's "lot number" such as the Lot #9 we purchased as a brand new house; the assessor's parcel number only shows up in the final documents, so something can fall through the cracks if someone isn't paying attention during the process.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Built on Wrong Property

Quote (CWB1)

more bodies increases the likelihood of somebody being guilty.

More bodies makes it more likely that someone's insurance company will settle rather than be dragged into court.

RE: Built on Wrong Property


phamEng is correct. The other facet that comes up is the cost of defending her position. I've been involved with the process of a suit that named everyone that touched the project because the attorney's know that most insurer's will cough up some money to walk away. Our legal system is about advocacy, not truth.

RE: Built on Wrong Property

(OP)
I was once told, "We have a system of litigation, not a system of laws, in the USA."

RE: Built on Wrong Property

I have heard of worse cases, like an entire housing development built on a retired lady's land in Long Island NY. Inspectors and county clerks seem to need money on the side was the main issue.

Today, almost every city is redrawing its town maps /plats using Lidar lasers , and nearly every single property's boundary line needs to be corrected.
t
As an aside, the original NJ state constitution mandated that no home can be built on land that was previoulsy washed by the ocean. MOdern geologists insist that at least half of NJ homes ares thus built on land that was washed by the ocean thousands of years ago, so they amended the NJ constitution around 1985 to remove that issue. Some problems are solved by the stroke of a pen.

"...when logic, and proportion, have fallen, sloppy dead..." Grace Slick

RE: Built on Wrong Property

(OP)
There are surveying and boundary laws that establish the property line to what has been observed for some number of years. The corner pin is considered a permanent mark, but the property line may or may not connect to it. Redrawing boundaries will only extend the animosity between neighbors, when a glass of lemonade and a rational discussion is what really needs to happen.

RE: Built on Wrong Property

A buddy of mine had a house built. A survey was required for the loan to buy the land, a lot in a new subdivision. Then another survey was required for the construction loan. Then, when the house was finished, he had to get a third survey for the mortgage.

He had complained about the cost of doing the second survey, but the third one was the most costly. It turned out the first two were done off the subdivision pins. The third was done from the local datum (not sure the term) and worked from there to his property. Which is how he found that his driveway was about 6 feet over the line into his neighbor's yard.

Turned out the developer had the original survey done and submitted, but then some buddy wanted a change, so the developer moved the stakes 10 feet to the side for dozens or more lots. The lots were all the same area and the same shape, just shifted.

This would not be insurmountable in a fully finished development, but his neighbor had not started any construction and was therefore unaffected in any way. That strip became the most valuable land in North America.

Everyone got sued.

Edit to add: Until the matter was settled, he would be sitting on a construction load and construction loan rates.

RE: Built on Wrong Property

This is what title insurance is for. All she has to do is file a quite title action. If the developer pushes this, she can sue for encroachment and demand that the property be restored to its original state. The Developer is SOL. If I was her I would tell the developer to pound sand.

The developers only recourse is against a surveyor. I don't know how you even submit a site plan, get elevations for site work, or pour a slab without certified surveys.

Things in Florida got really crazy in Florida during the RTC days, but those are nothing to submerged land issues.

RE: Built on Wrong Property

I think the developer didn't hire a surveyor.

Quote:

PJ’s Construction was reportedly hired by developer Keaau Development Partnership to build about a dozen homes on properties that developers bought in the subdivision, where the lots are identified by telephone poles.

An attorney for PJ’s Construction said the developers didn’t want to hire surveyors.

https://www.kktv.com/2024/03/27/property-owner-stu...

Apparently the corners of the lots are identified by telephone/power poles which is why the developer felt so good about skipping a survey.

Not sure this is the same house, but it sure looks like it is built the same: https://www.compass.com/listing/15-2043-16th-avenu...

Since it doesn't mention the tax sale it's either a different lot on the same street or the wrong information from a different lot.

I only get the tippy-top but two judges have recused themselves over initial hearings.

Quote:

Both Hilo Circuit Court judges have bowed out from hearing a case involving a California woman sued by a developer whose contractor mistakenly built a house on her lot in Hawaiian Paradise Park.

https://www.westhawaiitoday.com/2024/04/10/hawaii-...

RE: Built on Wrong Property

I seem to recall browsing thru an old book on surveying, and in the good old days the reference point a surveyor would use is a bottle top nailed to an oak tree. Such a refernce point would at least last thru the career of the surveyor, and as with all of us, what happens after retirement is someone elses problem.

"...when logic, and proportion, have fallen, sloppy dead..." Grace Slick

RE: Built on Wrong Property

They build the house and then want the land? Good then that should also be done on national forest and other such lands as well.
Did the ones responsible ever think that is why there are outfits that move houses? Funny stuff.
If it was my land I'd say not for sale but will trade it for other land that I find.

RE: Built on Wrong Property

The following may be of interest:

In Smith Develop~nt, Inc v Flood 198 Ga. App 817, 403 S.E.2d 249 a builder, without the knowledge or consent of the defendantMs Flood, commenced to build a
$40,000 house on vacant land owned by Ms Flood. When the bouse was about 50% complete, Ms Flood discovered the work and had her solicitor write to the builder request-ing that no further construction take place and warning the builder that if construction continued it would be at the peril of the builder.
...
The Court of Appeals of Georgia (USA) held that the builder was not entitled to recover anything from Ms Flood.

Ex:

Smith Development Inc v Flood 198 GA App 817, 403 SE 2d 249

https://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/AUConst...

RE: Built on Wrong Property

That is in Australia; this case is in the US state of Hawaii.

Regardless of ownership, et al, this woman now has to pay property taxes on a home that is currently not livable due to the damage from squatters, has a building she did not want, lost any trees she had intended to keep, and now has to navigate the typically very expensive legal system that will, at best, sometime in the far future award her a fraction of the loss.

Update:
https://www.westhawaiitoday.com/2024/04/26/hawaii-...

Quote:

An Oahu developer who filed a lawsuit against a California woman who owns a Hawaiian Paradise Park lot on which his contractor mistakenly built a house more than a year ago testified Thursday that he paid contractors, subcontractors and vendors more than $300,000 in cash and that there was no insurance bond on the construction.

And the ugly
https://www.kitv.com/news/big-island-house-built-o...

Quote:


Lot owner takes the stand in case of house built on wrong lot
by Jeremy Lee

Off a remote, gravel road in Hawaiian Paradise Park sits a brand new three-bedroom house on the wrong lot. There is a wrinkle in the case. The lot was purchased for $20,000 in a tax auction.

A prospective buyer can't get title insurance on it.

The brand new house would have to be purchased with cash, should the owner of the lot and the owner of the land come to an agreement. A former owner (or estate of a former owner) could always appear sometime in the future and lay claim to a property was sold in an auction. The state law protects the previous owner's rights.

So, for $20k the lot cannot have title insurance; essentially any title is toilet paper. The problem appears to stem from the fact this land was cleared by a lava flow and the state law holds that the owner of the land before the lava went over can claim it back.

What that means is that the developer who would really like to have her buy this house is also escaping that were the original owner want the lot back, he would not own the lot the house is on - exactly the situation he's in now. I don't know when the realization struck that the developer was so screwed that the original land-swap would not save him, but here we are.

And the finger pointing gets better with the ongoing case:
https://www.aol.com/finance/dangerous-precedent-ha...

Quote:

An attorney for PJ’s Construction said the developers didn’t want to hire surveyors, but Olson told Inside Edition this is untrue, claiming his clients did use trusted surveyors and left it up to the construction firm to make the decision on the location of the property.

RE: Built on Wrong Property

3DDave,
The case PP cited was in Georgia, USA. It had just been referenced in an Aussie construction law newsletter.

RE: Built on Wrong Property

hokie66 - still not HAWAII. Georgia doesn't have right of return for VOLCANIC FLOW.

But thanks for stepping up to make a correction. That's the important takeaway here.

RE: Built on Wrong Property

It's scary that you don't have clear title when something is sold at auction by the state. Something is broken.

-----*****-----
So strange to see the singularity approaching while the entire planet is rapidly turning into a hellscape. -John Coates

-Dik

RE: Built on Wrong Property

3
Actually, there are two types of tax sales in certain US states. Both have some sort of redemption period (3 years or so) for owner of property and mortgage holder, which provides them the opportunity to come up with the money and pay the debt, court fees, etc. to reclaim the property.

At a tax sale, typically a Certificate is provided, that can be turned into a deed, at the end of the redemption period.

Therefore, yes original owner, if they can come up with money, could claim the lot back with house on it, within redemption period.

Now original owner would have to pay reasonable expenses of current owner that purchased certificate at tax sale, and perhaps compensate developer for reasonable improvements or prove otherwise.

So in this situation this is a very costly process of recovery for original owner, and with the lottery amounts attorneys make, could easily eat up value of asset or not?

And perhaps if current owner prevails, they get their attorney fees paid by developer and get to keep house too?

What a can of crap to sort out! This is why US is lawfare country, where BS claims can be made against an innocent person, and that person has to have deep pockets to defend themselves or they get KO'd


RE: Built on Wrong Property

Agree, owner was screwed, before being sued....and had to take action, and would have had to sue, to solve either way.

Investors buy property at tax sales all the time in the US, to potentially acquire property for pennies on the dollar, then sit on property for redemption period, and only perform absolute necessary repairs, till they obtain clear title to property. There is no guarantee that purchaser at tax sale will recoup all they spend on a tax sale property, before they have clear title deed to property.

You can also obtain clear title to property by adverse possession in US.

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