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Can a neighbor claim land that is not theirs

North Bay, NY |

We live near a lake and there is a strip of land that I found out by going to our county office and having them look into it and found out this 20 foot wide strip of land (that a few of us use because we don't have lake front land) is owned by the state and is public land and one of the neighbors claims its on his deed (as he was told by the person he bought the house from) but it does not say on his deed that he has lake rights or lake access (the county told me that it would have to say that on his deed) all it says on his deed is he has excess and easement (and the county told me that the property was land locked and that allowed access to cross another property to get to the road. I also went to our town and inquired about the public land we have been using for the last 22 years

and they said they new nothing about the land and they seamed surprised when I told them I went to the county and was told the 20 foot strip of land that goes to the lake was public access land. We where told when we bought our house 22 years ago that the piece of land going to the water was access that came with our house. Can the neighbor clam the land as his? And how can we make sure we will be able to use it for years to come?

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Attorney answers 4


This is a complicated question and cannot be answered by simply looking at the language of deeds and tax map ownership, including the public lands. There may be easements, including "lake rights" to the "landlocked" parcel that arise out of necessity or prior use. You need to take the deeds to a real estate attorney to review, and even then, the use patterns may not be apparent and there may be enforceable adverse possession claims as to some of these easements.

If there is a need to clarify this for some reason and "quiet title" or for someone to enjoin trespass on the easements or, alternatively, to require access to the easements, there may need to be a civil action for declaratory and injunctive relief in Supreme Court (the lowest level of state trial courts of record) brought under the Real Property Law and the Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law.

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Jack Richard Lebowitz

Jack Richard Lebowitz


p.s. You may be confusing "owning" title to land with land which is "burdened" with an easement. You may own the land, but another may have an easement to cross it or use it as a path or road to a lake or another parcel of land. That might arise if the people have crossed it for over ten years in a manner that was obvious to the owners of title to the land itself. It's a concept akin to "adverse possession" (squatters rights).


Contact a real estate lawyer about adverse possession and easement issues.

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I don't think adverse possession can be claimed against a municipality. Consult a local real estate lawyer.

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Jack Richard Lebowitz

Jack Richard Lebowitz


Indeed. But after three readings of this somewhat confusing question, I wasn't sure that's what this person was asking (you may have figured it out, Eric). That's why I just told the asker to take this whole mess of deeds and tax maps to a lawyer and see whether he could figure out whether an easement existed or neighbor owned the land in question absolutely (or whatever the asker wants to know here). :-)


Typically adverse possession rights cannot be claimed against a municipality/the government.

DISCLAIMER: Brandy A. Peeples is licensed to practice law in the State of Maryland. This answer is being provided for informational purposes only and the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice relating to your specific situation, I strongly urge you to consult with an attorney in your area. NO COMMUNICATIONS WITH ME ARE TO BE CONSTRUED AS ARISING FROM AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP AND NO ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP WILL BE ESTABLISHED WITH ME UNLESS I HAVE EXPRESSLY AGREED TO UNDERTAKE YOUR REPRESENTATION, WHICH INCLUDES THE EXECUTION OF A WRITTEN AGREEMENT OF RETAINER.

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