When a Developer 'Mistakenly' Builds a House On Your Land, Then Sues You for 'Unjust Enrichment'

I just came across a crazy story.

This lady bought land in Hawaii, then a developer built a home on her property without her permission. Now the developer is suing her for ‘unjust enrichment.’

You can see the full article here, which gives a lot more context, but here’s a quick summary:

  • Anne Reynolds purchased a property to use as a nature retreat, valuing the existing flora on the lot. However, a construction company working on a development project mistakenly built a house on her land. The developer likely failed to hire a surveyor to ensure accurate property lines.

  • She was offered inadequate resolutions, such as a similarly bulldozed lot or the option to purchase the house at a discount, both of which she refused.

  • As a result, a complex lawsuit has been filed, naming multiple parties including the landowner, local government responsible for maintaining property records, the construction company, and the development project leaders. The judge will need to untangle the situation and determine accountability.

  • The property owner has been further harmed by the error, with her property taxes skyrocketing from hundreds to thousands of dollars due to the added value of the unwanted house. She has also incurred legal fees and costs associated with preventing squatters from occupying the residence.

If you were the judge presiding over this case, whose side would you be on?

Interesting article. I would need more context to really say. I feel for both sides. According to the article both parcels (hers and the one the developer owned) are indistiguishable and that paired with horrible surveys and bad county records it seems like an honest mistake. Sounds like she is emotionally attached to that one specific parcel which makes things difficult. Based off the limited info, If I were the judge I would have her trade deeds with the developer, have them restore the natural landscaping, and give her a settlement or make the developer work on part of the build for “retreat” she had evisioned.

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