Saturday, June 08, 2019

The Law That Lets You Legally Steal Houses

This video from Half as Interesting explains the concept of "adverse possession," an arcane real estate law handed down from the Middle Ages. It might seem nonsensical, but if you read individual cases, some of them make plenty of sense -while others are downright egregious. (via Digg)

I was involved in a case of adverse possession some years ago. The (by then deceased) previous owner of my property encroached in his (eventually deceased) neighbor's property a few decades prior. She never appeared to have objected, and was living in a nursing home by the time I arrived. I bought the property with the understanding of the boundary lines as described by the deceased owner's widow, who didn't know about the encroachment (or forgot). The neighbor's heirs (who knew about the encroachment) sold the land to a guy who enforced the original boundaries, and bulldozed my driveway and flower gardens. A surveyor, city officials, and my lawyer said I had an ironclad case to get that land back, but admitted it would take years in court and thousands of dollars. Instead, I sold the house (at a loss) and moved away. 

1 comment:

Canonicus Veneficus said...

Adverse possession can never be used if there was just a misunderstanding as to the actual lot or property lines. It has to be ‘adverse,’ meaning “I know it’s not my property but I am going to use it as my own anyway” and you make it known to the true owner. At best, using someone else’s land by mistake might get you an easement.