Chaplin v. Sanders

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Chaplin v. Sanders
Court Washington Supreme Court
Date decided January 26, 1984


The Hibbards set up a trailer park around their land in 1958; they treated a drainage ditch as the boundary. They built a road to access the trailer park.

In 1960, the neighbor Murray found that the road Hibbard had built encroached on the Murray property. In 1962, the Hibbards sold their trailer park. The Sanders eventually bought the Hibbards parcel in 1976.

In 1978, the Chalplins bought the Murray (neighboring) property; the Chaplins found the encroachments from the Sanders.

Procedural History

The Chaplins sued to quiet title. The trial court ruled that the Sanders had acquired title to the road through adverse possession, but not to the strip of land between the road & the ditch.


Is a possessor's subjective belief about who is the true owner of a disputed land relevant to determining the hostility requirement of adverse possession?


The purpose of adverse possession is to quiet title.


The possessor's subjective belief about the identity of the true owner of the disputed land is irrelevant to proving the hostility element of adverse possession.

The Sanders had been given notice about the encroachment.

The Supreme Court of Washington granted the Sanders the title of the disputed land.


Permission from the true owner to possess property indicates absence of hostility.


The actions of a property possessor determine the hostility element of adverse possession.

According to Justice Utter, adverse possession has a 10 year possession requirement for

  1. exclusive
  2. actual & uninterrupted
  3. open & notorious
  4. hostile possession.


"Hostility" means that the possessor claimed the land as a true owner against others.