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Can I have an adverse possession ruling reversed?

Bronx, NY |

I purchased a home in 2006. At the time of purchase the owner was sued by the neighbor claiming adverse possession on the driveway leading to the back of the house. The case was opened prior to me purchasing the house. Two years later in 2008 a judge granted the neighbor a ruling in her favor, allowing her to claim the driveway as her own. I would like to know if it is possible to have the ruling reversed or reopen the case with the fact that I purchased the home while the previous owner was being taken to court. I have a survey which was done on the house after I purchased it.

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Nope. So long as you were on notice that there was a claim pending on adverse possession, you are bound by the results. And you would (or should) have been aware, especially if you purchased title insurance, because the plaintiff in the litigation would almost certainly would have filed a "Notice of Pendancy" (a/k/a "lis pendens") which would be recorded in the County Clerk's office and would have shown up on your title search.

If you somehow "closed over" these issues, you may have a case, but only against the title company or your lawyer who reviewed the title if they totally missed the "lis pendens" or it wasn't filed, or maybe an action against your seller if there was no lis pendens and they knew of the adverse possession litigation and didn't tell you about it.

The survey is meaningless. That just shows what lines are on the ground from deeds and other maps. The very essence of adverse possession claims is that there is possession that results from occupancy or use for a specified period of time (more than ten years in New York State) that is DIFFERENT than what it says on the surveys and deeds (unless your survey shows the lines determined by the Court in the litigation, not the previous survey lines, and then you're just dealing with a boundary line dispute. But if your survey is just based on old deeds and maps, tough noogies, you lose).

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Look to your title report. If the adverse possession claim was listed as an exception to your policy then your title company will not litigate this matter for you. If they missed it, then you may have a claim against the title company. Consult a real estate attorney.

My direct line: 646-606-6002. If this answer is helpful and/or the best answer, then please indicate it as so. Thank you. This answer is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. You should not take action based upon this information without consulting legal counsel. This answer is not intended to create, and does not create, an attorney-client relationship.

Jack Richard Lebowitz

Jack Richard Lebowitz


True, *if* the adverse claimant filed a lis pendens and the title company somehow missed it and didn't put it on an exclusions schedule. I put a low probability on that. Or if no lis pendens was filed and seller was certainly aware of the litigation, perhaps an action against the seller for fraud? Title companies check the filed records with diligence, but the don't check litigation not a judgment or lis pendens filing...they are not mindreaders!

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