The Appellate Division, Second Department, has issued a recent ruling dismissing claims for adverse possession in a case involving neighboring residential lots in Brooklyn.
Klose & Associates’ clients purchased several lots in Kings County and commenced construction on a multifamily dwelling. As construction proceeded, the clients had to litigate over an eight inch strip of land lying on the other side of a fence which had, for more than 10 years, separated the driveways between their parcel and the adjoining neighbor (claimant).
According to the claimant’s own testimony, the fence was installed (2001) jointly by the claimants and our clients’ predecessors in title, and was positioned in the same place as the old fence. In dismissing the claims, the Court recognized that
A party seeking to obtain title by adverse possession must prove by clear and convincing evidence the following common-law requirements of adverse possession: (1) that the possession was hostile and under claim of right; (2) that it was actual; (3) that it was open and notorious, (4) that it was exclusive; (5) and that it was continuous for the statutory period of 10 years
Here, after close of discovery, we presented evidence establishing that the claimants cold not prevail on their adverse possession claims because they admitted cooperating with their former neighbor in constructing and maintaining the fence separating the driveway. Thus, the “possession” of the strip of land was not “hostile,” because the consensual use of the area in question did not constitute an actual invasion of or infringement on our client’s right to the strip of land on the other side of the fence. The court cited a long line of cases holding that, “When permission can be implied from the beginning, adverse possession will not arise until there is a distinct assertion of a right hostile to the owner.”
Bottom line– the term “adverse possession” is not simply– I own the strip of land because I drive on it. The party claiming possession must show acts divesting the other of ownership rights. Do you homework, don’t capitulate.View Case Here