Property rights are sometimes considered the foundation of American Society. The ability for an individual to purchase and manage their land as they see fit is a profoundly respected right and often serves as a foundation for the right to privacy. Thus, ensuring an accurate understanding of an individual’s property is vital but often more complicated than it first appears. Adverse possession, essentially claiming property rights through land use, may seem almost absurd in the present real estate scene, but 26 states have laws regulating the practice.
Adverse possession laws can vary from state to state regarding the length of land use or the various conditions to allow land ownership to change hands. However, this process allows a person to gain possession of property that otherwise would not have access to and legally include it as their property. Thus, this is everything an individual would need to know regarding New York’s adverse possession law.
Adverse Possession Laws
Most individuals will likely engage with the 10-year rule regarding the property through the doctrine of adverse possession. Adverse possession is a legal principle that individuals can must understand when publicly moving into a piece of property they have no claim to. After a certain period (in New York state, ten years), the individual gains a title to the land and effectively gains the property. The individual may also make improvements to that piece of property to earn that title.
Adverse Possession Claims Must Meet the Following Requirements:
- Open and notorious: The use of the property must be in public and not secret;
- Legal period: Meets the legal length to establish a claim (in this case, ten years);
- Hostile claim: Must conflict with the landowner’s share and use of the land, essentially by using the land they are taking from the original owner;
- Exclusive and continuous possession: The individual adversely possessing the land must be using it exclusively and continuously for the entire legal period;
- Actual possession: The adverse possessor must be using the land.
A defective title to the land may also be relevant, but only certain states require that standard.
Adverse Possession in New York Today
Current New York law defines adverse possession through the adverse possessor, the acquisition of the title, and the claim of right.
The Adverse Possessor, or AP, who is “adversely” possessing the real property without the knowledge or approval of the superior property owner in violation of their rights. This possession must be in a manner that would generally allow the owner to eject the AP legally.
Acquisition of Title:
The Acquisition of Title is the process by which the AP claims a title, or access, to the land in question. The AP must possess the land for a minimum of ten years to establish a title claim. To claim the land, the AP must meet the above adverse possession process standards.
The Claim of Right:
The Claim of Right applies when the AP believes that the property belongs to the adverse possessor or property owner. The claim of right is unnecessary if the AP cannot ascertain the owner or owners of the real property throughout the ten (10) year period in the county clerk’s records. If the AP fails, then the county’s register, where the real property is situated and located by reasonable means, is an alternative. Essentially this claim is unnecessary if the actual owner of the property is missing in records during the period where the AP is attempting to take the land.
If the owner gave the AP permission to enter the land, they have no claim. The state requires that possession of the land be adverse and against the property owner’s wishes. If the discovery of the adverse possession occurs before the ten-year period elapses, then the land is returned to the actual owner. The real owner also could bar the AP from attempting to enter the land. The courts may judge land ownership, or under certain circumstances, the land is the AP’s.
This process is potentially applicable to a tenant-landlord situation. Still, the adverse possession does not start until the last rental payment has been submitted.
Fences and Adverse Possession
Under These facts, a fence may be a valuable tool for establishing adverse possession and the boundaries of an individual’s property. A fence is a vital tool for developing one’s property boundaries. A fence may create issues related to the open and notorious aspect of the claim. However, it does support the other factors. It may play an essential role in determining whether land use meets the standards of adverse possession. If extending the fence boundary as a means to cordon off a parcel of land to meet the adverse possession standard, eventually, it may meet the claim. However, if it was a mistake regarding the property line, it is simply a fence.
What are the Standards for Adverse Possession in New York Law?
Most adverse possession standards in New York are like those in other states. The possession must be open and notorious for ten years, include exclusive and continuous use, and the AP must have actual control of the land. Each of these factors must be satisfied before the AP can legally claim the title to the land.
What Role Do Fences Play in New York Law?
A fence can help establish property boundaries and demarcate where one piece of land begins and ends. The AP may also use a fence to section off land that is not their own, assuming they had a reasonable belief the individual owned the land. However, if this was just a simple mistake, then the fence is simply a fence under the law and not the new property boundary.
Contact Pride Legal
If you or a loved one are concerned over adverse possession law, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.