A Nightmare Scenario for Landowners and Home Builders

In 2018, Annaleine Reynolds bought an empty lot in Puna, Hawaii. She did not plan to build a house on it, but instead would use it for women's retreats. Her plans were delayed by the pandemic, and she was stuck in California. In 2023, she found out that someone had built a house worth a half a million dollars on her property! A developer hired a construction company to build about a dozen houses in a subdivision and accidentally built a house on Reynold's lot. You might think that would be a great problem to have- free house, right? But this case is far from simple.

The developers offered to sell Reynolds the house at a discount, or swap an empty lot with her. She refused both deals, as her attorney said it would set a dangerous precedent to let the developers and builders off that easy. So the developer is now suing Reynolds for refusing those offers! Okay, as if that weren't enough, there are now squatters living in the house. Who has jurisdiction over them? Reynolds is countersuing, and the case is headed to court. ā€‹

The lesson to be learned here is to keep an eye on any property you may own, which may require enlisting an agent in the case of a long distance deal. Even if you are willing to let someone else have it, there are certain liabilities that come with ownership. And if you are building homes, it will pay to double check and triple check all the paperwork, surveys, and permits. -via reddit ā€‹

(Unrelated image credit: Charles O'Rear/National Archives

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