What to do about a claim of adverse possession?

We purchased a forclosed residential lot and house from a bank. We tore the house down and had the lot surveyed. The neighbor has a fence on our land and refuses to move it claiming adverse possesion dating back 40+ years. The fense is aligned with a metal stake the may or may not have been a boundry marker. We asked them plitly to move the fense and they objected claiming they will keep the land. The fence is about 1/3 of the length of the property line and starts and stops near the center portion of the lot line. It looks like it may have been an animal pen at one time by some previous owner. This will make it very costly to build our home because it forces us to relocate space for a septic system. What can be done to reposess?

Asked on September 5, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Speak with a real estate attorney. There are number of conditions required for adverse possession, including not just how long it goes back (which the neighbor would have to prove) but also that the possession was truly "adverse"--that is, the neighbor had to take the land knowing it was not his land. Also, if the former owner of your land gave permission to the neighbor to use the land, then that would not be adverse possession. There may be one or more ways, therefore, to  attack this claim of adverse possession, and you should speak with a real estate attorney about doing so.


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