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Loren, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 34430
Experience:  30 years of real estate practice experience.
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We have a piece of property that the neighboring land owner

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we have a piece of property that the neighboring land owner has built a building on part of our lot - they are trying to now settle the landowners estate when this was discovered by party wishing to purchase - we have offered to sell them this lot as they cannot settle or sell - they informed us that they could seize this lot because of amount of time building had been there -Is that possible?
JA: Have you talked to a real estate attorney about this?
Customer: No - we have been in contact with attornies trying to settle the estate
JA: Where is the property located?
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: We have owned this property sinc the early 90's - this lot is vacant

I am Loren, a licensed attorney for over 30 yrs. Thank you for your patience as I review the question. I will post my response shortly.

How long has the bldg been encroaching on your property?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
they say 30 yrs not sure - we do not live nearby we actually live in Ohio
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
do not want to call - just doing research

Thank you for the additional information. I am sorry to hear of your dilemma. I realize how frustrating this is for you and I hope to provide you information which is accurate and useful, even though it may not be the news you were hoping to get.

Unfortunately, the neighbor may have a claim for adverse possession.

As in most states, adverse possession in West Virginia is established from the nature of a trespasser’s possession and the length of time the person possesses the land.

A trespasser’s possession must be (i) hostile (against the right of the true owner and without permission); (ii) actual (exercising control over the property); (iii) exclusive (in the possession of the trespasser alone); (iv) open and notorious (using the property as the real owner would, without hiding his or her occupancy); and (v) continuous for the statutory period (which is ten years in West Virginia, under W. Va. Code § 55-2-1).

If you can not reach a negotiated settlement you will need to sue them in an action for trespass. They will assert a defense of adverse possession and the burden will shift to them to prove all of the elements.

You will want to retain an attorney. This is not something to do pro se.

If you need assistance finding local counsel try Martindale Hubble (site rules prohibit us from referring specific attorneys). Many attorneys themselves use this site to locate attorneys outside their jurisdiction or expertise:


It is a huge worldwide database searchable by location and specialty. The attorneys are peer rated. So, they represent the top of the profession.

I realize this is probably not the answer you were hoping to receive. Also, please remember that this is not a moral judgement on my part. As a professional, however, I am sometimes placed in the position of having to deliver news which is not favorable to a customer's legal position, but accurately reflects their position under the law. I hate it, but it happens and I only ask that you not penalize me with a bad or poor rating for having to deliver less than favorable news.

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