- December 18, 1991
- All Washington Agents
- Vacated Streets
We have an important new decision on title to vacated streets. In this case the Washington Court of Appeals vested title to one half of a vacated exterior boundary street in a plat in the owner of land outside of the plat. Christian v. Purdy, 808 P.2d 164 (Wash App. 1991).
This case is not consistent with either a 1980 decision, London v. Seattle, nor a 1987 statute which held that title to vacated streets which were the exterior boundaries of plats vested entirely in the lot owners within the plat.
In this case there was a common owner of the land outside of the plat and the subdivision when the plat was filed. The court of appeals used this common ownership to distinguish the London case. The court distinguished the 1987 statute because the vacation occurred in 1983, four years before the statute was enacted. Title to one-half of the vacated street was quieted in the owner of the land outside of the plat.
In this case the county commissioners determined that title should vest in the lot owners only. This was disregarded by the court. The county commissioners cannot determine title. All they can do is vacate the public easement.
Thus, title to a vacated exterior boundary street in a plat does not always vest in the lot owners. It may vest one half each in the lot owners and the land owner outside of the plat if (1) there was common ownership at the time of dedication and (2) the vacation occurred prior to 1987.
THIS BULLETIN IS FURNISHED TO INFORM YOU OF CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. AS A REMINDER, YOU ARE CHARGED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONTENT ON VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER AS IT EXISTS FROM TIME TO TIME AS IT APPLIES TO YOU, AS WELL AS ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONS. OUR UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS DO NOT AUTHORIZE OUR ISSUING AGENTS TO ENGAGE IN SETTLEMENTS OR CLOSINGS ON BEHALF OF STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY. THIS BULLETIN IS NOT INTENDED TO DIRECT YOUR ESCROW OR SETTLEMENT PRACTICES OR TO CHANGE PROVISIONS OF APPLICABLE UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS. CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY, OR NONPUBLIC PERSONAL INFORMATION SHOULD NEVER BE SHARED OR DISSEMINATED EXCEPT AS ALLOWED BY LAW. IF APPLICABLE STATE LAW OR REGULATION IMPOSES ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS, YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO COMPLY WITH THOSE REQUIREMENTS.