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Adverse possession is a legal term for a concept every school child knows: Possession is nine-tenths of the law. Under adverse possession, you may legally gain ownership of land without paying for it if you simply occupy it long enough -- whether that means "squatting" or simply extending the boundaries of your own property. This rule helps prevent errors in land title records and protects occupants from heirs with centuries-old claims -- but it can also lead to conflicts between landowners and occupants.
The New York City real estate law firm of Robert Aronov & Associates, P.C., can help you understand the complex mixture of common law, caselaw and the brand-new New York adverse possession law that make up an adverse possession claim. We can help legal owners and their heirs prove their rights to long-lost property, using land title records and other evidence. We can also bring an adverse possession claim for those who have invested substantial time and money into abandoned land.
New York Adverse Possession Explained
The burden of proof in adverse possession cases is always on the claimant -- not the property owner of record. To make an adverse possession claim in New York, an occupant must have possessed the land for ten years without a challenge by the landowner of record. But that's not enough by itself to make a successful adverse possession claim. Under recent legislation, the claimant must make a "substantial enclosure" on the land, such as a home, or another intrusion "sufficiently open to put a reasonably diligent owner on notice." That is, you can no longer take land you know is your neighbor's lawn by mowing it for ten years; you must do something to demonstrate that you claim the land.
After this, claimants must meet five more requirements to gain legal title to the land:
- They must physically possess and use the land -- just walking across it regularly isn't enough.
- The use must be open and obvious, most of all to the legal owner.
- The legal owner cannot use the land at the same time as the claimant. There may be several claimants, however.
- The claimant must have used the land in a way that's "hostile" -- inconsistent with the landowner's rights and without permission.
- The claimant must have used the land continuously (with no breaks) throughout the ten years.
New York City Adverse Possession Attorneys
Robert Aronov & Associates, P.C. is a New York City law firm focusing its practice on real estate law. In addition to making and defending clients against adverse possession claims, we handle all other types of New York City real estate law. We have five offices in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan, and serve all five boroughs as well as Long Island and update counties.
For a free consultation on an adverse possession claim, contact Robert Aronov & Associates, P.C., today.