120: Solutions to Common Real Estate Issues

Have you ever had a neighbor encroaching on your land, whether intentionally or innocently? Or perhaps they have decided to install a cell tower that directly blocks the beautiful view that you bought your property for in the first place? Or maybe you’ve recently inherited the family home but share it with your siblings and cannot agree on what to do with it. How do you resolve these types of challenges? Do you have a friendly conversation? Do you engage a lawyer and go to court?

In this podcast episode, we sit down with Steven Kahn, a civil litigation attorney who focuses on real estate disputes and litigation and business disputes that typically concern real estate. He is a shareholder at Hoge Fenton, has been a Northern California Super Lawyer four years in a row, and has been a Northern California Super Lawyer Rising Star for five years. With his accolades and over nineteen years of experience in trials, arbitrations, and problem-solving, Steven is the perfect candidate to share his insights on various real estate issues.

“When you bought your house, you probably got a title insurance policy, and it probably has something attached to it called an assessor’s parcel map that looks like a map of your neighborhood, but it doesn’t actually show where your boundaries are. It was created by the taxing authority to have a general idea of how big the land is.”

So, join us in our 120th episode of Absolute Trust Talk as we discuss:

  • How to divide up real estate that has been inherited by more than one beneficiary
  • The ins and outs regarding boundary disputes
  • What court proceedings for real estate issues may look like – depending on the case
  • Discussions on the recent Mount Diablo dispute
  • What you can do if a neighbor blocks your view from your property
  • The difference between adverse possession and prescriptive easements

And much more!

There’s nothing quite like a real estate or land dispute to ruin neighbor or familial relationships. A little effort and communication can go a long way to finding the right solution, but we know some situations can escalate quickly, and a lawyer like Steven can help keep the peace and navigate the law. If you or someone you know is facing a real estate or property legal challenge, we hope this episode will help you take the necessary next steps to resolve your issue correctly.

Big Three from Episode #120:

  1. Regarding real estate issues and land disputes, especially ones within the family, cases settled in court tend to leave everyone unsatisfied and can worsen tensions. It’s essential to have a conversation with family members, beneficiaries – all those involved – to make sure your estate plan has a clear direction to help avoid any disagreements if possible.
  2. Did you know? In a property or land dispute case, what typically happens is the person using the land will make the argument for an easement, giving them the right to use the property even though they don’t own it. The person using the land pleads to the court that it’s only fair for them to continue using the land since it hasn’t been an imposition on the landowner. This argument tends to work since judges don’t want to do unreasonable things.
  3. If your neighbor is disrupting the view from your property, there are three things to consider are: one, does your area have a view ordinance; do you have an easement in your favor that protects you, and can you prove that your neighbor is doing something to interfere with your enjoyment of your property directly?

Time-stamped Show Notes:
0:00 Introduction

2:12 Today’s guest is Steven Kahn, a civil litigation attorney focusing on real estate issues. Welcome, Steven!

4:58 What happens when multiple siblings inherit the same real estate? There are several potential issues with this, which means there are many possible solutions, but one central underlying theme is how well the siblings get along.

7:56 Next, we address what happens if, when two or more people inherit real estate, one does not want the burden of owning it. There are essentially two paths to solving this issue. Here’s what you need to know.

10:44 A recent California real estate law change makes non-contesting party buy-outs easier and fairer.

12:18 One message we want to drive home in this episode is to avoid taking issues into court if you can. Here, we walk you through the court process to show you how lengthy, complicated, and potentially even unfair it can be.

15:09 When disputing who gets what in selling inherited property, who determines what realtor to use? It could be up to the court, too.

16:05 Boundary disputes are an issue that many people run into. A word of advice: Avoid getting an attorney involved if you can help it.

17:52 Steven’s first piece of advice is to know where boundary lines are and have a friendly dialogue with the neighbor.

19:22 When it comes to boundary disputes regarding the law, you may be surprised that it’s not as simple as going based on the official property line. Press play now to hear Steven’s insights.

22:10 What are adverse possession and prescriptive easements, and how do they differ? Adverse possession in this situation is owning someone’s land, whereas prescriptive easement is the right to do something.

25:27 What happens if you have to go to court over boundary disputes? A solution would depend on the facts, testimony from both parties and, ultimately, what is most fair.

29:22 Here, we look at a specific case as the base of Mount Diablo, where bicyclists commonly used a shortcut through someone’s property until the owner put up a fence.

33:46 If your neighbor is disrupting the view from your property, there are three things to consider. The first is, does your area have a view ordinance?

35:40 The second thing to consider if you have a neighbor messing up your property view is whether you have an easement in your favor that protects you.

37:50 The third option for repairing a view from your property is proving that your neighbor is doing something to directly interfere with your enjoyment of your property.

39:40 Q&A: How does title insurance factor, if at all, into boundary disputes?

41:25 Q&A: What about paying for fences? Is there a rule about who pays to replace a fence between two yards?

44:40 Thank you, Steven, for joining us in this episode!

Get in Touch with Steven Kahn
Steven J. Kahn
Shareholder, Chair – Real Estate & Land Use
6801 Koll Center Parkway, Suite 210
Pleasanton, CA 94566

Resources/Links Mentioned in this Episode:

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