Can we store our possessions on our own property

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Can we store our possessions on our own property

We paid cash for 20 acres of bare land zoned rural. Now Bldg Planning is telling us that unless we have a Permitted house on it, which we cannot afford right now, that we cannot have anything stored on the property. So all the tools and building supplies we have so far have to be removed. Also, there is an old trailer that was pushed over the edge of a steep hill before we bought the property but the realtor told us that area wasn’t part of our property. However, we had a survey done and it turns out that trailer is on our property. The county guy said it is our responsibility, that it’s not the realtor’s fault that he didn’t know the actual property lines.

Asked on January 20, 2017 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Check the regulations and ordinances yourself: go to the county and/or municipal clerk's office and look up the laws pertaining to unimproved land and what may be on it. IF the inspector is correct and the law prohibits any storage unless there is a permitted house, then you can't store anything there--it may be silly, it may be unfair, but if it's the law, that's what you have to comply with. But he could be wrong--he's just a human being and so is falible. Confirm his understanding of the law yourself, and/or hire an attorney to check this for you.
As to the discarded trailer: he is partly correct. It IS your responsibility to take care of it--the current owner of property is responsible for remediating, or correcting violations on it--but if the realtor actively misinformed you and that misinformation played a role in your decision to buy and/or the price you offered, he may in turn be liable to you for the cost to remove the trailer, such as based on professional negligence (or carelessness). Now, it is possible that if the removal cost is not too high, that it would not be cost-effective to sue for the money (if he won't voluntarily reimburse you), but that is a cost-benefit decision you make based on what makes sense for you.


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