Hansen v Sandridge Partners, L.P.
Facts: Without confirming the boundary of their property, a farmland owner installs an irrigation system and plants trees on part of the adjoining property. Later, the adjoining property is sold. The owner and the new neighbor negotiate to resolve the issue but fail to agree on the location of the lot line.
Claim: The owner seeks to quiet title, claiming they hold a prescriptive easement over their neighbor’s property which bars the neighbor from using or occupying the disputed land since the owner was not aware of the lot line’s exact location and the trees’ removal would present a disproportionate hardship.
Counterclaim: The neighbor seeks money losses and to quiet title, claiming the owner is trespassing since the owner made significant improvements to the neighbor’s land.
Holding: A California court of appeals holds the owner is not entitled to a prescriptive easement over the neighboring property to bar the neighbor from using or occupying the disputed land since the owner was negligent when installing the improvements. [Hansen v. Sandridge Partners, L.P. (April 6, 2018)_CA5th_]
Editor’s note — The court instead grants the owner an equitable interest of limited scope and duration with conditions to prevent further encroachment since the prescriptive easement sought amounts to an adverse possession, which is not established.