Can I claim ownership to part of a vacant lot that I maintained?

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Can I claim ownership to part of a vacant lot that I maintained?

I bought a home in a subdivision 4 years ago. I had asked the developer to do something to correct the erosion along my driveway that was occurring due to the downward slope of his vacant lot next to mine. He said the only thing that he would do was to put up a silt fence. This didn’t work, so I graded and sodded a part of the lot, which fixed the erosion problem, although my driveway now has large cracks in it. I have also since then openly maintained this portion. The developer has never said anything about what I’ve done. What rights, if any, do I have to this portion of his vacant lot by adverse possession or some other means?

Asked on November 12, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Alabama

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

In order to establish adverse possession of the portion of the vacant lot,  you have to establish continuous, hostile, open, notorious and actual possession for the statutory period.

By maintaining the portion of the vacant lot, you have established that  your use of the property has been continuous.  It has been hostile (in derogation of the true owner's (developer's) rights).  It has been open and notorious which means the owner (developer) has had notice of your use of the property which you have openly maintained.

The problem is that in Alabama, the statutory period for adverse possession is ten years.  Therefore, since only four years have elapsed, adverse possession for the statutory period has not been established.  Since you have satisfied all the other elements of adverse possession, if you continue for another six years, you will then have established adverse possession of the portion of the vacant lot.


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