He cannot access this property unless he comes onto my property. I have cut the grass for the last 28 years but cannot plant shrubs or put up fencing. Does the law of acquiescence apply? Is the property his or mine?
Family Law Attorney
Property questions are quite fact sensitive. There is a concept called "adverse possession" which states that if you use property that is not yours, and the use is "open, notorious and adverse" after twenty years (in developed areas) the property becomes yours. The fact that you knew you could not plant shrubs or put up a fence, however, might indicate that you knew the property was not yours, and that you acted accordingly. Under the circumstances you describe, without knowing more, i don't think the property transferred to your ownership; but any attorney would need to know more facts before giving you a definite answer.
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Adverse possession claims involving fence lines can be complicated - and the case law goes both ways. There is a line of cases in NJ which provides that fences are rarely located exactly on the property line and that a fence that is slightly off the property line may not always give rise to a claim for adverse possession. See Mannillo v. Gorski, supra, 54 N.J. at 382, 388, 255 A.2d 258 (involving a fifteen inch encroachment) ("[W]hen the encroachment... is of a small area and the fact of an intrusion is not clearly and self-evidently apparent to the naked eye ... [the] presumption [of adverse occupancy] is fallacious and unjustified."); See also Maggio v. Pruzansky, supra, 222 N.J.Super. at 573, 537 A.2d 756 (involving an intruding strip slightly more than one foot in width).
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