When does adverse possession apply?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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When does adverse possession apply?

My neighbor moved into his home in September 2002. We moved into our home October 2002. There was an old rotten broken-down fence that separated our backyards. In 2008 we decided for safety of our little girls to replace the rotten fence with a new vinyl fence. We asked our neighbor if he’d be willing to split the cost and he said No. We went ahead with the construction after agreeing with him to put the new vinyl fence in the existing old wood fence holes. 10 years go by with no complaints or concerns from him. Just this week, he comes to my door and says we put up the vinyl fence on his property and he is going to get it surveyed and we may have to tear it down. I have photos of the existing wood fence and even photos from when we moved in that show existing wood fence. When those photos are compared to the photos of the new vinyl fence it is obvious they are in the same spot. If for whatever reason the survey comes back showing the fence on 1 foot of his

property, hasn’t the land been

Asked on June 11, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Oregon


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Based on what you write, you may have a claim for adverse possession: you can acquire land by adverse possession in your state (OR) if you openly and notoriously (so obviously, so that the other land owner can see what you did and respond to it, if he chooses--like when there is a fence on "his" land), actually (so you have done it, not just talked about doing it), continuously (without interruption), exclusively (not letting others, including the land owner you'd be asserting a claim against, use the land--for example, you fenced it off), and hostilely (not "angrily" but "hostile" to or opposed to his interests--such as by carving off some of his land) occupied the land for 10 years (you are right on the cusp for the new fence, but prior to that, occupied with with the old fence). Based on what you write, you seem as if you may well have fulfilled the criteria for adverse possession.
You also do nt need to take his assertion about the property borders or boundaries at face value--it is entirely possible he is wrong and it is your land anyway. 
So there are two different ways you may have or be able to get ownership of the land. Consult with a real estate attorney to explore the best way to proceed.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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