Property issues


A deed is legal document that conveys an interest in real property from one person to another. The basic requirements for a deed in Washington are: it must be in writing, contain a legal description of the property, be signed by the grantor, and the grantor’s signature must be notarized. There are several types of deeds. You can read about the most common types in this Rocket Lawyer article.

The Washington State Bar Association website has some blank deed forms as well as other documents that are related to deeds.

The law library sells a Transfer on Death Deed self-help kit that includes forms and instructions to allow a property owner to transfer the property to another person as an inheritance when the property owner dies. The kit covers creating, recording, revoking, or claiming under a Transfer on Death Deed. Kits can be purchased at the library or online and mailed out.

Mechanics' (contractors') liens

Any person who provides labor, professional services, materials, or equipment to improve real property may be able to put a lien on the property. These mechanic's liens provide protection and ensure payment to a person or entity who improved the real property. 

Mechanic's liens in Washington are governed by Chapter 60.04 RCW of the state statutes.

The Building Industry Association of Washington website has information that helps explain what you need to do to file a lien as well as some sample forms. The Washington State Bar Association website also has several different blank forms for waiving and/or releasing a lien.

Filing a claim on a contractor's bond

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries' website has information about filing a lawsuit against a contractor's bond. Washington LawHelp also has some information about filing this type of lawsuit.

The law library sells a Start a Contractor's Bond Claim self-help kit with forms and instructions to start a claim against the contractor's bond (it does not cover how to finalize the process). It includes forms for either the homeowner or a subcontractor/supplier who has not been paid to use. Kits can be purchased at the library or online and mailed out.

Neighbor issues

Typical concerns between neighbors involve fences, branches overhanging or damaging property, weeds, noise, use of property, or access.

Clark County has a page on Good Neighbor Relations with ideas for how to minimize and resolve problems with neighbors. Code Enforcement has a Neighborhood Guide that includes the rules on many common situations.

The City of Vancouver has a Good Neighbor Handbook that is designed to provide you with information about what it means to be a "good neighbor," and how to care for and maintain your property.

Neighbor Law book cover

The Washington State Law Library wrote a blog post about neighbor issues. You can access the Nolo Press book, Neighbor Law, referenced in the blog online for free from the Clark County Law Library. Log in to Nolo.

FindLaw has an encyclopedia entry about neighbor disputes that includes links to additional resources.

If you need help talking with your neighbor about a problem, you can contact Community Mediation Services. Trained mediators can help you work out a resolution.

You can also look at the Vancouver Municipal Code or the Clark County Code about specific topics. Vancouver has a Code Compliance office with a link to report violations of city code. Clark County has a Code Administration department that include enforcement of the county code and has a link to report neighborhood concerns.


This article from T-Square Real Estate Services has an overview of the differences between squatters and tenants, squatters rights, and how to evict a squatter.

Squatters can be removed by following a process described in RCW 9A.52.105 and using the form described in RCW 9A.52.115. The form lists the statements you must swear to be true for the person to be considered a squatter subject to removal.

The Rental Housing Association of Washington has an overview of the requirements of the law.

People removed under this procedure based on false statement can sue according to RCW 4.24.355 to recover actual damages, costs, and reasonable attorneys' fees from the person making the declaration.

To begin the process after you determine you meet the requirements in the law, you can try calling 311 and let them know this is a criminal trespass situation rather than a civil eviction. They should direct you to the correct agency. For property within the City of Vancouver, try calling the Vancouver Police Department at 360.487.7400. For property within the jurisdiction of the Clark County Sheriff's Office, try calling West Precinct at 564.397.2211.   

Replevin (Possession of personal property)

Replevin is a court action to recover the possession of personal property. It allows a person to request an order for the immediate delivery of their property after a hearing. Personal property is any property that is not land or buildings.

The basic laws for replevin are found in RCW 7.64.

The Clark County Sheriff's Office has a list of their requirements for replevin.

The law library sells a Replevin in Superior Court self-help kit that includes forms and instructions to ask for an order requiring a person or business to return a specific piece of your personal property valued at $300 or more (for example, this can be a vehicle or a pet or anything except land or a building). Kits can be purchased at the library or online and mailed out.

The law library has some information and sample forms for replevin that are available for viewing and copying. These are written for attorneys and are not necessarily complete and may not comply with local procedures.

Quieting title

If you purchased a car and have had a hard time getting title in your name, you may be able to use a process called "quieting title" to settle the question of ownership of the vehicle. Some people call it applying for “ownership in doubt.” Washington LawHelp has some general information about this situation as well as a guide to this process including instructions and forms.

If there are issues with title to real property (land/buildings) the law library has materials to learn more about quieting title for these situations.