Land ownership

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Land ownership

My family has been paying taxes on a piece of property for over 75 years. More recently, My mom and dad have been paying the taxes on that piece of property for 20 years. It is about 1/2 acre. There is not a home on the land. There is storage building on the land that we have used to store items and are currently using. As far as I know, there is no deed, and there has never been a deed. I believe it used to belong to the railroad. My great grandfather would hang the mail on a post for the engineer to pick up. We would like to sell the property but have a dilemma as how to show ownership.

Asked on November 30, 2017 under Real Estate Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You may be able to get title in this case by "adverse possession": you have been using the land as your own in an open fashion (paying the taxes; having and using a storage building), without apparently permission to do so from the owner, for more than 10 years continuously. On the face of it, you appear to satisfy your state's requirements for taking possession through "adverse" (against the owner's) actual "possession" (open use of) the land for a prolonged period. Adverse possession claims are complex and can hinge on small details of usage and possession: you are *strongly* advised to consult with a real estate attorney. If the attorney agrees that you appear to have a claim, the next step is filing a legal action/lawsuit to have the land put in your name, though undoubtedly there will also be survey and title work (you need to know the boundaries) to be done, too.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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