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Richard, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 53721
Experience:  32 years of experience as lawyer in Texas. I'm also a Real Estate developer.
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We are in the process of buying land in southwest VA. The

Customer Question

We are in the process of buying land in southwest VA. The land have been owned by HUD for the past 3 years. The neighbor has fenced an acre of the 3.59 acres, built a wood shed and parks his cars on another part of the land. He is claiming it is his land now by prescriptive easement. As far as I know this has been going on for 3 years. He has stolen about a 1/3 of the land. Previous owners have not let him use the land by his own admission. We haven't signed the final papers or paid for the property yet. Do we need to pass on this purchase?
JA: Because real estate law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: Virginia, Pulaski County
JA: Has any paperwork been filed in court? And what is your ideal outcome for the situation?
Customer: As far as I know no paperwork has been filed. We have a 1996 survey.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: That is it
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Richard replied 2 months ago.

Hi. My name is ***** ***** I will be helping you today! It will take me just a few minutes to type a response to your question. Thanks for your patience!

Expert:  Richard replied 2 months ago.

The neighbor is wrong. What the neighbor is talking about is either a adverse possession (i.e., ownership) or prescriptive easement (usage). Both require the neighbor to meet the following elements: i) actual possession of the property; ii) open and notorious use of the property; iii) exclusive use of the property; iv) hostile or adverse use of the property; and v) continuous use of the property for a specified period of time. The problem that your neighbor has is that under VA law, the continuous use must be for at least 15 years; 3 years is not nearly sufficient. So, if you purchase this property, you will own it and you can demand the neighbor give up his usage or he will be trespassing and you will have it removed and sue him for the cost of removal. :)

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