Facts: A property owner’s neighbor places portable patio furniture on a portion of the owner’s property, believing the portion of property is their own. The owner, aware of the neighbor’s encroachment, allows the neighbor to continue using the land without restrictions. More than three years later, the owner sells their property to a new owner. The new owner is unable to use the portion of their property blocked by the furniture, creating a hardship for them.
Claim: The new owner seeks the removal of the neighbor’s patio furniture, claiming the new owner faces undue hardship and is unable to use their land since the neighbor blocked the new owner’s use with the patio furniture.
Counterclaim: The neighbor seeks an equitable easement over the new owner’s land, claiming they do not have to remove the patio furniture since it is a greater hardship for the neighbor to remove the furniture and they have been using the property for more than three years.
Holding: A California court of appeals holds the neighbor is not entitled to an equitable easement over the new owner’s property and needs to remove the furniture since the hardship experienced by the neighbor to remove their patio furniture from the new owner’s land is not greater than the new owner’s hardship of not being able to use their land. [Shoen v. Zacarias (May 22, 2015) _____CA4th_____]