Neighbor Dismisses Lawsuit for Adverse Possession

Our real estate developer client purchased a vacant lot in a highly desirable section of Kensington, Philadelphia with the intention of developing the vacant lot into a single-family home. As part of its purchase, our real estate developer client paid the outstanding real estate taxes which had accumulated for years on the property.

Within days of our real estate developer client commencing construction of a single-family home on the vacant lot, the owner of the adjacent property which backed onto the vacant lot initiated a complaint seeking adverse possession in state court, claiming she owned the vacant lot due to her extended use and maintenance of it.

Adverse possession is a legal doctrine that allows a party to claim a property right in land owned by another party.  While adverse possession alone does not result in a transfer of legal title, adverse possession gives a party a vested property right in the area possessed.  Once that party meets the statutory requirements for adverse possession, he or she may initiate a quiet title action and obtain legal title to the property. By favoring the adverse possessor over the true landowner, the doctrine of adverse possession rewards the productive use of land and punishes landowners who “sleep on their rights.”

In order to obtain title by adverse possession, the party seeking adverse possession is required to prove actual, continuous, visible, notorious, exclusive, distinct, and hostile possession of the vacant lot for, at least, 10 years and, in some cases, 21 years.

Under our circumstances, the previous owner of the vacant lot had neglected it for decades during a time when development in this section of Philadelphia was unheard of.

While the litigation was pending, our real estate developer client was forced to cease its construction activities.  As a result, we aggressively defended the frivolous lawsuit through constant pressure of the neighboring property owner.

During the discovery phase, the neighboring property owner initially attempted to evade our demand to ask her questions under oath via a deposition, even fleeing to another country.

We were finally able to take her deposition which revealed many inconsistencies and a lack of documentation to support her claim of adverse possession.

Shortly thereafter, the neighboring property owner agreed to relinquish her claim of adverse possession to the vacant lot and to discontinue the pending litigation in exchange for a nominal sum paid by our real estate developer client.

Our real estate developer client was then able to resume construction activities on the vacant lot and eventually sold the newly built single-family home on the vacant lot for a significant profit.

Alan and Natalie are my legal team. They have been with me and V2 Properties through thick and thin. I wouldn't have it any other way. This is my A team.

- Vince Viney, V2 Properties

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