In Nellie Gail Ranch Owners Association v. McMullin, (2016) 4 Cal.App.5th 982, the court of appeal affirmed a trial court ruling quieting title to a portion of planned development’s common area in favor of a homeowners association (HOA) in Laguna Hills. In this case, a homeowner sought the HOA’s approval to construct several backyard improvements, including renovations to a pool, and new stairways, retaining walls and fences that dropped down the owner’s hillside towards HOA common area (Lot 274). The HOA approved the pool renovations, but not the owner’s proposed re-grading, retaining walls and fences. However, the owner’s constructed those improvements anyway, which had the effect of fencing in 6,000 SF of the common area, and the HOA sued.
CASE UPDATE: Court Affirms Dismissal Of Quiet Title Claim Even Though Plaintiff’s Name Was Fraudulently Omitted From Prior Deed.
In Lin v. Coronado (2014), 2014 WL 6398772, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s quiet title claim finding that a change that was made to a revised version of a deed that omitted plaintiff’s name was immaterial, and thus, no basis to void the altered deed. The plaintiff, Helen Lin, alleged that she contributed $150,000 toward a $250,000 purchase of property at a trustee sale with two other partners, River Forest and Elevation Investments; that the original version of the trustee’s deed named the transferees as “RIVER FOREST FINANCIAL LLC 75%, ELEVATION INVESTMENTS 25% HELEN LIN”; that the version of the trust deed that was subsequently recorded was altered to omit HELEN LIN from the named transferees (unbeknownst to Lin); that River Forest then quitclaimed its entire interest in the property to Elevation, which then sold the property to the defendant in this case, Mireya Coronado.
Court rejects property owner’s claim that he had an “Equitable Easement” to use an improved patio area on his neighbor’s property and remanded the case back to the trial court to adjudicate the plaintiff’s prescriptive easement claim.
In Shoen v. Zacarias, (2015) 237 Cal.App.4th 16, the court of appeal overturned the trial court and rejected plaintiff’s claim that she had an “equitable easement” to use a patio area on her neighbor’s property that was only accessible from the plaintiff’s property. The equitable easement doctrine evolved to give courts discretion to balance hardships in neighbor disputes over the use of property, and it can be used when a party cannot satisfy all the elements for an actual or prescriptive easement. The court summarized the current rule as follows:
What happens when two surveyors disagree about a boundary line? That question was answered in Bloxham v. Saldinger, (6th Dist. 2014) 228 Cal.App.4th 729, which is a property line dispute case concerning Santa Cruz Mountains property near Soquel Creek in which the court of appeal affirmed a trial court decision that found one of two recent surveys of a 1858 boundary line was more credible. The underlying facts are pretty interesting: The issue at trial was the location of the original 7-mile long western boundary of the “Soquel Augmentation Rancho.”