Claiming vacant abandoned land

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Claiming vacant abandoned land

In Delaware an adjoining lot to our
property- we just found out has never
been deeded by/to anyone. Can we lay
claim to it through a quitclaim deed?

Thank you very much

Asked on April 16, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Delaware

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

No, you cannot. Whether the land appears vacant or not, it belongs to *someone*: a prior owner or a descendent (e.g. heir) of a prior owner; the government, if it had been governmental land in the beginning and was never acquired by a private citizen, or if the county claimed it for unpaid taxes; a lender who foreclosed, if there had been any unpaid loan to acquire; etc. There is NO land in the U.S. no owned by anyone: all land is owned by the federal, state, or local government, a private citizen or business, a nonprofit or religious insitution or charity, a trust, or sometimes an Indian tribe.  Since there is some owner, you cannot take away that owner's interest in the land without their consent or agreement. Furthermore, a quitclaim deed is given TO you by someone else with a claim to or interest in the land (which they "quit," or give, to you): you cannot quitclaim land which you do not already own or have an interest in.


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