If I have some land that is in front of a neighbor’s house, can I allow him to mow it or can he claim ownership?

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If I have some land that is in front of a neighbor’s house, can I allow him to mow it or can he claim ownership?

We were letting the woods grow up and cut everything but the large trees down. Now they have asked that we let them mow it and keep it up and they would also plant trees on it. Am I getting set up for an adverse possession?

Asked on January 12, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Maryland

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You are correct about being concerned about adverse possession.  In order for your neighbor to have a claim for adverse possession, he would have to establish continous, hostile, open and notorious and actual use of the property for the statutory period.  If he mows, maintains, plants trees, etc. for the statutory period, he will have an adverse possession claim to the property. 

Continuous is continuous use of the property for the statutory period.  Hostile means the use of the property is in derogation of the true owner's rights.  Open and notorious means that you had notice of the use of the property.  Actual means means making actual use of the property.  These items would have to occur for the statutory period (which varies from state to state) in order for your neighbor to obtain the property by adverse possession.  If your neighbor's use doesn't continue for the statutory period, his successors on the property can add their time until the total required time for the statutory period is satisfied.  This is called tacking, adding the periods of adverse use by different parties until the statutory period for adverse possession is satisfied.


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