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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Attorney
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 33404
Experience:  Began practicing law in 1992
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I'm a Title Abstracter in South Carolina trying to help out

Customer Question

I'm a Title Abstracter in South Carolina trying to help out my church.Would like to know how best to get by Adverse possession of property they have used for more than 20 years. There is a private road shown on plats which does not exist. They own the property on both sides of this imaginary road and would like to get title to it. It is an old Development and the President of the Developer is deceased. Is there any way around having to attempt reaching an heir for them to get title to this road that does not exist.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.

Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Also, I can only answer the questions you specifically ask and based on the facts that you give so please be sure that you ask the questions you want to ask and provide all necessary facts.

I'm not following, are you saying the church has the right to the property by virtue of adverse possession or they are trying to defeat ownership of the property claimed by adverse possession?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
the church is trying to obtain ownership of property that they have used for more than 15 years. It is a road R/W that has never been constructed. The owners of the Development are deceased, But there are owners adjacent that have rights to the R/W per plats, but not constructed. I'm looking to see if they could get a Quit Claim Deed by Adverse Possession and what we'd have to do to get ownership of a R/w from deceased owners of the Development that was created in 1956
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Also, the r/w is not taxed because the Assessor's do not know who owns it.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It was put in a R/W to the S/D
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.

You can't get a deed by adverse possession (AP) since AP is an equitable claim for ownership.

You have a couple of choices. The first is to hire a lawyer and file a lawsuit to have the court determine that the church owns the property by way of adverse possession. As you know, there are a number of different requirements for adverse possession to apply but the lawyer can go over all of those and how it can be proven in the court. The lawyer will also have to locate the current owners of the property so that they can be served. It is possible that if the owners can't be found that he can have the court appoint an attorney ad litem to represent their interest and then serve them by publication.

If for some reason the lawsuit doesn't work, and likely the lawyer will be able to review all of the facts ahead of time and tell you how the judge is likely to rule, then you would still be able to locate the current owners and negotiate with them to purchase the land.

Finally, if neither of these work, another options is to convince the Assessor to take the property for taxes and put it up at auction, or at private sale if that is allowed where you are, and then have the church make the purchase there. Based on what you've listed in your facts the market value of the property shouldn't be very high and there shouldn't be any type of competitive bidding war.

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