Squatters rights

When we bought our home 23 years ago there was an 8 ft. pie shaped piece of the driveway that belonged to our neighbors. Their house is across the street, so we do not share the driveway. We were told by a family member to use the piece of driveway since they had no use for it. Then, 3 years ago, 1 sister bought out the other family members. Yesterday, her husband came over and informed us he no longer wants our boat trailer parked on that spot because he intends to use it. We have been maintaining that spot for 23 years with snow plowing, patching and sealing the driveway. Can we legally claim that spot after all these years?

Asked on August 26, 2018 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

No, you cannot. First, there is no such thing as "squatter's rights"--the term you are looking for is "adverse possession" which is not quite the same thing and which has some very strict limitations on when it lets you claim ownership over another's lands.
The first and most significant restriction on adverse possession is that the possession and use of the other's property must be "adverse"--that is, it must be hostile to their interests. Among other things, that means that it must be WITHOUT their permission, since using their land with their permission or consent is in accordance with their interests and is not hostile to them. You write that they gave you permission to use that piece of their driveway: since you were using it with their permission, you were not using or possessing it adversely and so cannot claim any rights over it by adverse possession. Maintenance does not give you any rights without meeting all the criteria for adverse possession.


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