The first thing to know here is that the law that existed before 2008 in NY was more favorable to you. Under the Franza case, 897 N.Y.S.2d at*****said : “[W]here title has vested by adverse possession, it may not be disturbed retroactively by newly-enacted or amended legislation.” So we need to determine when titled vested. Franza v. Olin, 897 N.Y.S.2d 804, 807-08 (App. Div. 4th Dep’t 2010). "It is well-settled law that the adverse possession of property for the statutory period vests title to the property in the adverse possessor. "Adverse possession for the requisite period of time not only cuts off the true owner's remedies but also divests [the owner] of his [or her] estate." Thus, at the expiration of the statutory period, legal title to the land is transferred from the owner to the adverse possessor. Title to the property may be obtained by adverse possession alone, and "[t]itle by adverse possession is as strong as one obtained by grant." It therefore follows that, where title has vested by adverse possession, it may not be disturbed retroactively by newly-enacted or amended legislation."
In NY there is a 10-year statutory period of adverse possession. So title to that land vested in your favor, it appears, 10 years after you bought the house. This would put you at about 2010 which is 2 years after the 2008 changes. So, it appears that you fall under the new law which, I am sorry to say, does not work in your favor:
This is because 2008 legislation deemed certain encroachments and activities as "permissive and non-adverse" which previously might have been considered as evidence tending to show such use and occupation of the land by the intruder as adverse. Included in this now permissive and non-adverse category are (a) "de minimis non-structural encroachments," such as fences, hedges, plantings, sheds, and non-structural walls, and (b) "acts of lawnmowing or similar maintenance across the boundary line of an adjoining landowner's property." The RPAPL adverse possession amendments became effective on July 8, 2008, and they "apply to claims filed on or after such effective date."
That is different than what is said in Walling. In 2006, the New York Court of Appeals held that a neighbor adversely possessed land after running underground pipes and regularly mowing, raking, and planting on a portion of the title owner’s land. Walling v. Przybylo, 851 N.E.2d 1167 (N.Y. 2006).
Sorry about the long-winded analysis, but my opinion is that you do not have a clear-cut case of adverse possession here. Further, you may have other defenses that apply such as estoppel or waiver due to his silence while you were building the structure. I would suggest that you consult with a local real estate litigation lawyer in person about this as the matter is fairly complicated.
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