Land ownership

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Land ownership

My family has been paying taxes on a piece of property for over 75 years. More recently, My mom and dad have been paying the taxes on that piece of property for 20 years. It is about 1/2 acre. There is not a home on the land. There is storage building on the land that we have used to store items and are currently using. As far as I know, there is no deed, and there has never been a deed. I believe it used to belong to the railroad. My great grandfather would hang the mail on a post for the engineer to pick up. We would like to sell the property but have a dilemma as how to show ownership.

Asked on November 30, 2017 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You may be able to get title in this case by "adverse possession": you have been using the land as your own in an open fashion (paying the taxes; having and using a storage building), without apparently permission to do so from the owner, for more than 10 years continuously. On the face of it, you appear to satisfy your state's requirements for taking possession through "adverse" (against the owner's) actual "possession" (open use of) the land for a prolonged period. Adverse possession claims are complex and can hinge on small details of usage and possession: you are *strongly* advised to consult with a real estate attorney. If the attorney agrees that you appear to have a claim, the next step is filing a legal action/lawsuit to have the land put in your name, though undoubtedly there will also be survey and title work (you need to know the boundaries) to be done, too.


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