Parties to a lawsuit over adverse possession of real property will have some new provisions to take into account as a result of a new law passed by the Washington State Legislature and signed by the governor. Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1026 (“ESHB 1026”) changed the Washington adverse possession statute, RCW 7.28, to allow for a prevailing party to recover attorneys’ fees. It also permits a court to order a successful adverse possessor to reimburse taxes and assessments paid by the title holder during the time that the plaintiff was in possession of the property and for taxes that accrued during the lawsuit. Before the amendments, Washington’s adverse possession statute did not provide for any recovery of attorneys’ fees and made no mention of taxes and assessments. The changes to the law, particularly the allowance for attorneys’ fees, could result in more settlements of adverse possession cases to avoid the potential high costs of trial and risk of loss.
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