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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 37097
Experience:  16 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
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I have maintain township property, a paper road next to our

Customer Question

I have maintain township property, a paper road next to our yard. When we bought the property 32 years ago ,it was grass cover that appeared to be our property but on the township map it claims to be a paper road . We have used and maintain the property like I said for 32 years. We are planning on selling the property soon and I want to state a claim of where the paper road is that we have been maintaining as our property. What steps should I take ? Is there a form I have to fill out to get the process rolling?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply, but rest assured, I am working on your question.

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The process here would be for you to file a "quiet title" lawsuit against the township and claim the property through "adverse possession" if it has not been devoted to public use. The PA Supreme Court has stated:

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""As to political subdivisions, such as counties, townships and boroughs the rule seems to be that title by prescription by such governing bodies, and in this case, may be asserted unless the land in question is devoted to public use. City of Philadelphia v. Philadelphia & R.R. Co., 58 Pa. 253 (1868). Guerra v. Galatic, 185 Pa.Super. 385, 137 A.2d 866 (1958).""

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So the problem here would be in convincing a judge that a paper road that was never developed is not "devoted to public use". If it was initially planned to be a road, then a judge may rule that adverse possession would never apply because the land has always been devoted to public use, whether it was used or not. Alternatively, the judge could rule that if the township didn't take action within the specified time for adverse possession in PA, which is 21 years under Pennsylvania Code §42-5530, then the township would forfeit the right to claim it was devoted to public use.

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So filing suit under adverse possession against the township is the only way you could potentially get legal ownership of that land, assuming that they didn't decide to just deed it over to you rather than fight about it in court.

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thanks

Barrister

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