Residential real estate issues: Adverse possession

It is not always easy to discern where one property owner’s land ends and another owner’s begins. Perhaps a neighbor decided to sell his or her home, and it turns out that another Delaware homeowner built a garage on the property without realizing it. It was not until a survey was done as part of a residential real estate transaction that the mistake was discovered.

The owner selling the property may demand that the other remove or move the structure even though the garage may have been there for several years. The garage owner does not want to move it, and makes a claim for adverse possession. In order to make such a claim, certain elements must exist. The individual essentially trespassing on the other person’s property does not have to be aware of it, but must be continuously occupying the land without sharing it with anyone else.

The person claiming adverse possession may be treating the land as it was his or her own and is not concealing that fact. As long as the owner of the property being encroached upon did not provide written permission to use it, there is a chance that it could become part of the property owned by the person using it. In that case, it may be necessary to change the deeds on both properties, along with the surveys.

It may not be easy to remove whatever structure takes up a part of another person’s property. Moving a fence may not be terribly difficult, but something such as a garage could be. If a Delaware resident finds out that he or she has been using a portion of a neighbor’s property without permission for an extended period of time, it may be necessary to make a claim for adverse possession. A residential real estate attorney could assist in determining the best way forward.

Source: FindLaw, “Adverse Possession: Continuous Trespassers’ Rights“, Accessed on July 2, 2017



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