Hello again! I hope the following information will be useful -- but I
will strongly advise you to get professional advice as well, because
the passage of time is often detrimental to your rights.
At the outset, let me express a concern. I don't understand how your
neighbor was able to file a lien against your property without filing
a lawsuit first. Ordinarily, you need either a judgment in your
favor, or special statutory grounds, before you can file a lien.
(Statutory grounds would be something like a mechanic's lien, where
you've done work on the property and haven't been paid, or a tax
In all my research, I can't find any legal grounds for filing a lien
on the basis of a property line dispute, without the dispute being
resolved by a judgment against you. It's possible there's a special
statute in Washington that I'm not aware of. But it's also possible
that your neighbor has filed a lien without the legal right to do so.
If she has filed a lien without the legal right to do so, YOU HAVE TO
ACT. Do NOT sit on this. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that you
should act on this EVEN IF there is some special law in Washington
that allows her to file a lien just on the basis of the plat survey.
DO NOT SIT ON YOUR RIGHTS, because that's how rights get lost.
I'm sorry to echo Daniel2's unhelpful comments below, but in this case
you really should seek professional advice. That lien is a cloud on
your title. You will never be able to do anything with your property
(sell, re-finance, etc.) as long as that cloud hangs there. What's
more, if your neighbor has filed a lien without any legal right to do
so, that's known as "slander of title," and it's actionable.
I do NOT suggest filing a lien against her property yourself, for the
reasons expressed above. You don't appear to have a basis for doing
so. For a discussion of lien claims against real property under
Washington law, this case is a good review:
98 Wn. App. 190, RICHAU v. RAYNER (1999)
Case won't hotlink, but this service:
will find it based on the title.
You need some grounds to file a lien. If you file a lien without a
basis for doing so, you have committed "slander of title," which is
also discussed in the case cited above.
As for the trees, it's difficult to say with certainty because I can't
see them. Ordinarily, of course, you're entitled to plant whatever
you like. But there is a concept known as a "spite fence," where a
difficult neighbor builds a 15-foot-high monstrosity just out of
spite, and those are considered nuisances, and courts have forced
people to tear them down.
Trees planted right on the boundary, that are going to grow as you
describe, have been considered to be a "spite fence" by some courts,
notably in Rhode Ilsand and California.
The Washington spite fence statute states: 'An injunction may be
granted to restrain the malicious erection, by any owner or lessee of
land, of any
structure intended to spite, injure or annoy an adjoining proprietor. And
where any owner or lessee of land has maliciously erected such a structure
with such intent, a mandatory injunction will lie to compel its abatement
Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 7.40.030, at
Here is a discussion of trees and fences you might find useful, at
"General fence height restrictions may apply to natural fences--fences of
bushes or trees--whether or not they are specifically mentioned, if they
meet the ordinance's general definition of fences. Whether trees and
bushes are considered fences depends on the location of the trunks, the
particular ordinance, and whether or not they are actually used as a
fence. When natural fences are singled out in the laws, the height
restrictions commonly range from five to eight feet.(4)
"Example: A fellow in Washington state had thirteen Douglas fir trees on
the border of his property. He called them "yard landscaping." His
neighbor complained, probably because of a blocked view, and the town
sued him to comply with its fence ordinance. The court called the trees
a fence, which under the local town ordinance was restricted to eight
feet. The particular regulation in this case contained the language
"naturally grown or constructed," so it applied to the Douglas firs. The
man had to cut them."
And finally, some language from a Washington case dealing with the
Washington spite fence statute:
?We conclude that in order to apply the spite fence statute, RCW
7.40.030, to restrain the erection of a fence or other structure or to
abate an existing structure, the court must find (1) that the
structure damages the adjoining landowners enjoyment of his property
in some significant degree; (2) that the structure is designed as the
result of malice or spitefulness primarily or solely to injure and
annoy the adjoining landowner; and (3) that the structure serves no
really useful or reasonable purpose.?
11 Wn. App. 59, J. C. BAILLARGEON et al., Respondents, v. A. G. PRESS
(Again, the search service doesn't hotlink the individual cases, so go to
and search either using the case name or the search terms "spite fence.")
Oh, and you asked about "lis pendens." It's a document that is
usually filed at the inception of any lawsuit dealing with ownership
of real property, and it's intended to put any potential purchasers on
notice that there is a dispute about ownership. But again, it's only
filed when a lawsuit is actually pending.
I hope this information has been useful. Please don't hesitate to ask
if there's any clarification you need. Best of luck.