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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 41221
Experience:  Multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation and administration.
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We have been taking care of adjoining property for 23 years,

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We have been taking care of adjoining property for 23 years, and now the owner wants to give it to our neighbor. There is a wash line pole and bushes that were put there by the previous owners. We put up a swing set on the property about 15 years ago. We had verbal permission, nothing in writing, to use the property. We are thinking adverse possesion. In general, is this a long process which would be very expensive?

Thank you for your question. Please allow me to assist you this evening. I am a licensed Pennsylvania professional and will do my best to help.

Under PA law to claim adverse possession you must show that you had an open, notorious, hostile and contrary to the wishes of the owner continuous and sole use of the premises for the statutory period, which in Pennsylvania happens to be for 30 years, Consequently I do not see this as a successful PA claim since most of those elements were not fulfilled. Your right to put up the swing set was not 'hostile' or 'contrary' to the wishes of the owner--the owner consented. Even verbal consent is enough to negate adverse possession since the factor of using this land against the wishes of the real owner is simply vital and mandatory to this cause of action. I can understand your thoughts but this does not fit state law, and one that if you attempt to bring you would not likely prevail under. The process is also expensive and can last at best 6-9 months but in this case you may be better of saving your money.

Good luck.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I thought the time period for adverse possesion claim in Pa. is 21 years of continuous use. Also , what about the previous owners using the land for 10 years prior to us?

Thank you for your follow-up, John.

The statute that governs is 42 Pa.C.S. § 5530. You are absolutely correct, the statute is indeed for 21 years, not 30--I apologize for the error as I ended up posting the statutory number as the year of the limitation purely by reflex. Again, my extreme apologies. However the rest of the information is absolutely correct--you must show that you utilized the property without consent of the owner. The fact previous owners used the land for 10 years or longer is irrelevant if the current owner gave you permission--that resets the statute and it only begins running from the date when this permission was otherwise rescinded, either orally or in writing. Since by your own facts you admit permission was provided, your use is no longer 'hostile' and is no longer covered under adverse possession conditions. Here is the full statute below:

§ 5530. Twenty-one year limitation. (a) General rule.--The following actions and proceedings must be commenced within 21 years: (1) An action for the possession of real property. (2) An action for the payment of any ground rent, annuity or other charge upon real property, or any part or portion thereof. If this paragraph shall operate to bar any payment of such a rent, annuity or charge, the rent, annuity or charge to which the payment relates shall be extinguished and no further action may be commenced with respect to subsequent payments. (3) (Deleted by amendment). (b) Entry upon land.--No entry upon real property shall toll the running of the period of limitation specified in subsection (a)(1), unless a possessory action shall be commenced therefor within one year after entry. Such an entry and commencement of a possessory action, without recovery therein, shall not toll the running of such period of limitation in respect of another possessory action, unless such other possessory action is commenced within one year after the termination of the first. (May 4, 2006, P.L.112, No.34, eff. 120 days) 2006 Amendment. Act 34 deleted subsec. (a)(3). Section 6(1) of Act 34 provided that Act 34 shall apply to all condemnations effected on or after the effective date of section 6. Section (6)(3) of Act 34 provided that the amendment of subsec. (a)(3) shall apply only to causes of action which accrue after the effective date of section 6.

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