We have mowed 2 acres of property (not ours) that is now being transferred to the county due to death of owner. Can we claim this property as ours?

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We have mowed 2 acres of property (not ours) that is now being transferred to the county due to death of owner. Can we claim this property as ours?

The property is adjacent to ours and we have maintained it for about 50 years. The county is saying we will have to stop mowing this part of the 50+ acre parcel when they take ownership this summer. The property is part of the Paint Branch Watershed in Montgomery County, MD. We are willing to sign a document that we will not develop the property we just want to mow it. The deer and other wildlife frequent these 2 acres and often sleep there. The county has said they may put in hiking trails so we just want to keep this area manicured as we have done since. Is there any hope for us?

Asked on June 12, 2009 under Real Estate Law, Maryland

Answers:

B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

In many states, an adverse possession claim also has to be "hostile," with some evidence of controlling access to the land being claimed.  Just mowing the grass almost certainly won't be enough, in my opinion.

J.V., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

In short there is something called adverse possession defined as:

a means to acquire title to land through obvious occupancy of the land, while claiming ownership for the period of years set by the law of the state where the property exists. This can arise when a rancher fences in a parcel contending he was to get title from some prior owner, and then grazes cattle on the property for many years without objection by the title holder. Payment of real property taxes and making improvements (such as paving or fencing) for the statutory period (varies by state) are evidence of adverse possession but cannot be used by a land grabber with no claim to title other than possession.

 

As I don't know the specifics of your state or the mental state of those involved as far as knowledge of possession or use or lack thereof. What I suggest is you contact a local attorney who can advise you if your specific case may fall under this premise and if so they can help you proceed to ensure it remains as is. Otherwise ask them if you may be able to continue mowing and if they can help you with that. This however will probably not be allowed if the property is not yours and the owner states you cannot


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