Can I obtain 10′ of my neighbors yard with Adverse Possession? There was a brook the town filled in with pipe and covered with gravel on the line.

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Can I obtain 10′ of my neighbors yard with Adverse Possession? There was a brook the town filled in with pipe and covered with gravel on the line.

The property line runs on an angle down the gravel bed. For 17 yrs I maintained it, parked my utility trailer on it on and off. I use it almost daily. I pd to bring in wood chips and gravel and had it graded to pitch the water run off away from my property. I blow the leaves off in the fall and remove branches that come down. The town has an easement for the maintenance of the drainage pipe.The neighbor’s house changed ownership several months ago. They had it surveyed and found out that what we thought was ours, (the whole gravel bed) isn’t. More than half is our neighbors. HELP!

Asked on May 14, 2009 under Real Estate Law, Connecticut

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The law in Connecticut is as follows:

Adverse possession can create an absolute title to real estate, which is as good as title by deed from the record owner. But adverse possession as record title requires evidence showing the existence of all elements necessary for adverse possession, and apparently this can be done only in a judicial proceeding to which those to be bound by the decision have been made parties.

The essential elements of an adverse possession sufficient to create title to land in a claimant are that the owner is ousted of possession and kept out uninterruptedly for 15 years by an open, visible, and exclusive possession by the claimant, under a claim of right, with the intention of using the property as his own, and without the owner's consent. The possession must be hostile and under a claim of right, actual, open, notorious, exclusive, continuous, and uninterrupted.

The 15-year period comes from CGS § 52-575 which establishes this time frame for an owner to assert his ownership claim over an adverse possessor.

A landowner who wishes to interrupt an adverse possession claim may serve a notice on the adverse possessor and record it on the land records. Such service and notice is an interruption of the use and possession and prevents the acquisition of a right by continuing the use and possession thereafter.

The notice must be served on the adverse possessor, his agent, or guardian if they are in Connecticut, in the same way lawsuit papers are served. Otherwise, a copy of the notice must be affixed to the house on the land in question or to some other conspicuous part of the premises.

The notice and papers indicating the notice was served must be recorded in the land records of the town where the land is located within three months after service. When the adverse possessor is unknown, the notice must be given by conspicuously posting a copy on the property, serving it on the person to whom the taxes were last assessed, and recording it on the land records.

The law prohibits adverse possession of:

1. certain types of land owned by investor-owned water companies (CGS § 47-27(b));

2. land belonging to a non-profit corporation organized under Connecticut law with land conservation or preservation as one of its principal purposes (CGS § 47-27(b)); and

3. certain railroad and canal land (CGS § 47-26).

RIGHTS OF WAY OR OTHER EASEMENTS

No one may acquire a right-of-way or any other easement from, in, upon, or over someone else's land, by the adverse use or enjoyment of it, unless the use has been continued uninterrupted for 15 years (CGS § 47-37). The use must be so open, visible, and apparent that it gives land owners the full opportunity to assert their own rights. The law presumes that after 15 years, the holder of legal title has acquiesced in the use.

A landowner may give written notice to the person claiming or using the privilege of his intention to dispute the right-of-way or other easement and to prevent him from acquiring the rights. The service of the notice and recordation on the land records is deemed an interruption of the use and prevents the acquiring of the right-of-way or other easement by continuing the use thereafter (CGS § 47-38). The notice must be served in the same manner as an original summons in a civil action on the person claiming or using the way or other easement or his agent or guardian if they are in Connecticut. If not, the notice must be served on the tenant or occupants of the interest to which the easement or right-of-way is attached, or a copy must be affixed to the house or the estate or some other conspicuous part of the premises (CGS § 47-39). This notice is considered a disturbance of the right-of-way or other easement that allows the person claiming the right to go to court to settle the controversy. If he prevails, he is entitled to full costs even if he only recovers nominal damages (CGS § 47-41)

You should see an attorney in your area about this.


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