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Irwin Law
Irwin Law, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 7307
Experience:  Lawyer- Broker 30+years - foreclosure, short sale, liens, title attorney.
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I live in the county along the railroad i have about 1 acre.

Customer Question

I live in the county along the railroad i have about 1 acre. My land is against a lot behind me that i have cared for for 22 years now that you could not use unless you lived at my house behind that is the railroad and on the other side is farm land. the land is only large enough for something like a garage like what we would like to build. We thought the railroad owned the land come to find out someone else did when we contacted him about buying it he didnt even know he owned it but would not sell it. Is there anything we can do when we are the ones that have mowed and cared for it for the last 22 years
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Irwin Law replied 10 months ago.

Good evening and thanks for submitting this interesting question. If you have actually exercised control over this land for 22 years, it's possible that you can claim ownership by way of adverse possession. Here is an excerpt from a South Dakota Court case which explains adverse possession.

Those claiming ownership to land through adverse possession must show that their possession was “actual, open, visible, notorious, continuous, and hostile” for over twenty years. Taylor v. Tripp, 330 NW2d 542, 544 (SD 1983). Under SDCL 15-3-13, adverse possession can be established only if it “has been protected by a substantial enclosure or [if] it has been usually cultivated or improved.” This statute thus provides a prerequisite to a justiciable adverse possession claim. Failure to show either a substantial enclosure or usual cultivation or improvement preempts the claim. Furthermore, adverse possession must be shown by clear and convincing evidence. Cuka v. Jamesville Hutterian Mut. Soc., 294 NW2d 419, 422 (SD 1980).

This is a very technical type of case and requires a lawyer who is familiar with those legal principles. When the claim is made it's very likely that the owner, who didn't even know he own the property will negotiate a voluntary sale to you, rather than go to the expense of defending a quiet title suit.

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Expert:  Irwin Law replied 10 months ago.

Hello again. I hope that I have provided excellent service and, if so, would love a 5 star rating. If not, please let me know how I can further assist you. There is no additional charge to you for rating me. A bonus is not required, but is always appreciated.

Thanks again for using JUST ANSWER.

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