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Thread: Successful adverse possession cases?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Successful adverse possession cases?

    Ever sense I was a kid, I was aware of bits and pieces of land that where either not occupied, maintained, or controlled by anyone, but part of an adjacent property. Sometimes (as seems to be more common around lakes) these properties are not even owned by anyone.

    I currently know of 3 different situations where someone is trying to claim adverse possession of a particular space of ground. Based on my understanding of the law, I doubt any of them stand a chance. From the way a former surveyor co-worker explained it to me, in Michigan, one of the standards requires both owners to have understanding and knowledge of the property lines and the person seeking adverse possession needs be able to prove improvement or occupancy of the land.

    There is also a strange part of my property behind the back corner of my garage that is part of the neighbor’s property. It is full of garbage, brush, dead trees, and weeds. The adjacent property owner said that he will get around to cleaning it up soon… but soon was two years ago. Being this is a rental property, I might just ask him if we would be interested in doing a quick claim deed and I would write up new legal descriptions to acquire that part of the property (it would create a nice boxed corner and I can finish my privacy fence) in return I would clean up the that part of the property. It would make is rental property look better, make my property look better, and create a win-win for everyone. I figure he does not maintain it with the rest of the property, why would he want it?
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  2. #2
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    You can always ask him of course if he's interested in quit-claiming his interest in that portion of his property and try to sell it as a win-win scenario, but don't be surprised if he says no. For some reason otherwise sensible/reasonable people have been known to get weird (as in fiercely territorial) when it comes to property lines that you'd never figured they gave a damn about.

    It's quite possible in your case you may not be able to meet all of the criteria for adverse possession in Michigan: for a 15 year period.... the possessor's use must be open; continuous; exclusive; adverse; and 'notorious'.

    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    I figure he does not maintain it with the rest of the property, why would he want it?
    To use as a 'dump' silly!
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  3. #3
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    You can always ask him of course if he's interested in quit-claiming his interest in that portion of his property and try to sell it as a win-win scenario, but don't be surprised if he says no. For some reason otherwise sensible/reasonable people have been known to get weird (as in fiercely territorial) when it comes to property lines that you'd never figured they gave a damn about.

    It's quite possible in your case you may not be able to meet all of the criteria for adverse possession in Michigan: for a 15 year period.... the possessor's use must be open; continuous; exclusive; adverse; and 'notorious'.

    To use as a 'dump' silly!
    I know that I would not be able to acquire this property under adverse possession. As for his use of the property, I will be sure to note that it is a problem for several of the surrounding property owners, and a CODE VIOLATION, and that if he does not want to clean it up, I will be happy to take that corner off of his hands (since it is a strange bump-out into my property) and clean it up to help boost everyone's property values. Of course I will make sure that I wait until after I paint my house and correct any potential code violations I have on my property.

    Most of my concern with this section of property is that it has become an attractive nuisance. There is about an 8 foot gap between my corner, (where my fence stops) and a wall that homeless people have been using as a pass through. In March, I found several coats, hats, and similar winter clothing piles back there (they had not been there the week before) and evidence that someone tried to break into my garage. Furthermore, the dumping has gone beyond brush into actual garbage and litter.

    Ironically, last fall, several cuttings of my heavily thorned blackberry bushes ended up being spread, and partly buried in parts of this area. This has resulted in a partial deterrent as people don't enjoy walking through them as much. If I had control of this area, the fence would go up and the entire area would be occupied with large flowering hedges.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    The only successful adverse possession case I've ever heard of was here in Maryland about 10 or 12 years ago: one family owned an island in the Chesapeake Bay, and another family (which may have had a minority ownership stake in the island, I don't clearly remember) had been granted the right to use that island for duck hunting in the 1930's or earlier. In all the decades since, the latter family had invested in improvements--not just duck blinds but a dock, tree planting, erosion-control measures to stabilize the shoreline, you name it--while the owner family did nothing at all except pay the property taxes, and I think the user family may have contributed to that (they definitely paid all permits and fees themselves.) When a descendant of the owner family tried to sell the island, I think to a developer (never mind the Critical Areas law that forbids development in most areas within 100 feet of the Bay shore and severely restricts development w/in 1000 feet of most still-undeveloped waterfront, which includes that entire isolated island) the user family sued. The case was resolved in their favor around the end of the '90s, based on three generations of improvements and investments versus the owners' documented neglect.

  5. #5

    Lost Property

    I have a question about Veterans Affairs REO property that I was trying to buy.

    So I found a house. property was tangled in a mess from 2007-2009,

    The property was foreclosed on in 2007, and has been vacant ever since.

    The City records office says its with the bank that foreclosed on it.

    But said bank conveyed it to the Department of Veterans Affairs, because it was a VA backed loan.

    The name on the Title and Deed says the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    Vendor Resource Management who is contracted to sell all Veterans Affairs properties says they have release the property.

    The Department of Veterans Affairs cannot find title/Deed in there system. The VA does not think they have it. So it in limbo.

    The taxes have not been paid on in 2 years.

    On July 14th 2013 the current Property Tax lien of $12,903.00 was sold at the city tax sale.

    What are my options?

    Thanks in Advance

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Midori's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    Ever sense I was a kid, I was aware of bits and pieces of land that where either not occupied, maintained, or controlled by anyone, but part of an adjacent property. Sometimes (as seems to be more common around lakes) these properties are not even owned by anyone.

    I currently know of 3 different situations where someone is trying to claim adverse possession of a particular space of ground. Based on my understanding of the law, I doubt any of them stand a chance. From the way a former surveyor co-worker explained it to me, in Michigan, one of the standards requires both owners to have understanding and knowledge of the property lines and the person seeking adverse possession needs be able to prove improvement or occupancy of the land.

    There is also a strange part of my property behind the back corner of my garage that is part of the neighbor’s property. It is full of garbage, brush, dead trees, and weeds. The adjacent property owner said that he will get around to cleaning it up soon… but soon was two years ago. Being this is a rental property, I might just ask him if we would be interested in doing a quick claim deed and I would write up new legal descriptions to acquire that part of the property (it would create a nice boxed corner and I can finish my privacy fence) in return I would clean up the that part of the property. It would make is rental property look better, make my property look better, and create a win-win for everyone. I figure he does not maintain it with the rest of the property, why would he want it?
    You're in Michigan? Quick case search of adverse possession cases there yields:

    http://caselaw.findlaw.com/mi-suprem...t/1610553.html (This one seems to use the term "adverse possession" more as a synonym for a quiet title action, though.)
    http://caselaw.findlaw.com/mi-court-...s/1331345.html (deals with application of adverse possession law to cotenancy, but does give you an outline of the elements)
    http://www.leagle.com/decision/19933...ichApp161_1344

  7. #7
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    As Maister said, there is a four part test that in my opinion would be hard to meet for adverse possession. I'm not aware of any cases offhand in MI.

    As to your property, I see that you have a few options: offer to take possession of the land, call the City code compliance, or just go clean it up yourself (thought I'm not sure what type of trespassing issus you would run into).

    I'm on a corner lot and my backyard looks into the side/backyard of my neighbor. There is a evergreen tree line on the property that had been overgrown, planted too close. I have spent the last few years cleaning it up, removing some trees, killing scrub trees that grow, pulling weeds, etc. They aren't the most motivated around their property, they mow the lawn but don't have much landscaping, and what they do have is full of weeds. They've talked about helping me back there but they don't, and won't do it. So I talked to them and said I would like to mulch the entire property line because grass won't grow, it's just dirt. I also said that I would like to bring the mulch 8-10 feet onto their property to make it look like a nice landscape bed, instead of stopping at the tree line (and then all the weeds would still grow up on their side, and it would look ridiculous).

    Anyway, they said fine, whatever I thought would be easiest and look best, and this year I bought 20 yards of mulch to put down as a landscape area. I still weed/maintain their side of the mulch because frankly I know they won't do it, but it looks awesome for both our properties. Anyway, moral of my story, is that depending on how bad a nuisance it is, maybe it'd just be best to clean it up on your own.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Wow, this is an older thread that I forgot about.

    I have since abandoned the idea, the person who owns the property does not want to part from it since he puts the snow from the parking lot onto it. So I boxed in my fence up to the garage and called it a day.

    As for Jright's question regarding the VA property, I think it depends on the state that you live in and I would suggest contacting a lawyer.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Midori's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    As for Jright's question regarding the VA property, I think it depends on the state that you live in and I would suggest contacting a lawyer.
    Seconded. Adverse possession is based on state law, usually case law, and the elements for it are reversed in some states (in some states the possession has to be "open and notorious" -- title owner had to know about it, and in others the title owner had to NOT know about it, for example). In many states you cannot adversely possess a property in which you have any ownership right (for example, you can't claim undivided title to a property you co-owned with your brother even if your brother hadn't set foot on the land for 20 years). Some states don't recognize any doctrine of adverse possession at all.

    Adverse possession is a weird holdover from England, where feudalism had tied up land ownership into an unworkable mess. Interestingly, the European Court of Human Rights has declared acquisition of title by adverse possession a breach of human rights. Not that England really cares.

    /morethananyoneneededtoknow

  10. #10
    Indiana specifically prohibits any adverse possession claim against public lands - Federal, state, or local.

    /weoncehadwiselawmakers
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
    "Once he timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."
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