Does my neighbor have adverse possession on my land that borders his?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Does my neighbor have adverse possession on my land that borders his?

With my permission, my neighbor has removed old dead trees on part of my property that borders his. He is now asking if I would like him to plant new arborvitaes to replace the old ones. If I give my consent for him to plant the new trees, would he be able to claim that part of my property at some point? I am just curious because he seems overly generous to do all of the work and spend the funds to do so. I want to make sure there is no catch before I agree.

Asked on April 22, 2019 under Real Estate Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, because among the several requirements for "adverse possession" is that it be "adverse": against the interests of the property owner. It's basically squatting on or occupying/using land against a person's will. Using land or making improvements to land with their permission does not give rise to adverse possession because it is not adverse: it is a permitted or licensed use, and what you voluntarily allow others to do does not take away your rights. You can let him do this, but should document your permission in writing--it can be as informal as a text or email, but you should both print it out and save it for future reference, if necessary--and can be short and friendly; e.g. "Dear Neighbor, I wanted to thank you for the new arbovitaes you planted on my land, where those old trees that I let you take out had been. I think they improve the looks of both our properites." 

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