It is not uncommon for private businesses to allow land adjacent to their property to be used by customers for parking or other purposes. Often, months or years can pass before the rightful owner of a piece of property realizes that an adjacent property owner is using it for their own purpose. A recently published local news article discusses a dispute between the city of Newport and a local restaurant over a strip of land owned by the city that the restaurant is using as part of their parking lot.
According to the news report, the city of Newport has demanded that a local restaurant stop using a 2400 square-foot section of land that lies between the reservoir and a city-owned artificial pond that is used as part of the city’s water system. The city claims that the adjacent land belongs to it and that the land needs to be used to improve and repair the shoreline of the pond to address safety and efficacy issues. The restaurant claims that the piece of land has been used by the owners of the restaurant’s land for over 20 years for parking and that the restaurant is entitled to continue such use. According to the survey information, the land originally belonged to the city.
Property owners who have continuously possessed and used property that is owned by a neighbor or other party for their own purposes may be entitled to claim ownership of the land under a legal theory known as adverse possession. Adverse possession allows a property owner to assert the right of title over a piece of land that has been used openly and obviously for an extended period of time, without the rightful owner objecting or taking any other legal action to stop the use of their land.
The restaurant owner made a claim in state court to be awarded ownership of the disputed piece of land by their adverse possession of it. The restaurant owner alleges that the section of land has been used for parking for the building for over 20 years, and the city has never objected to such use. In response, the city argued that private property owners could not use adverse possession as a way to take property from a state or municipal property owner. The state court agreed with the city of Newport and rejected the restaurant owner’s claim. The restaurant owner petitioned the Rhode Island Supreme Court, which will determine if such a property owner is allowed to make a claim for adverse possession and if the specific restaurant owner’s claim is valid.
Are You Considering or Facing an Adverse Possession Claim?
If you or someone you know has questions about a possible adverse possession claim or any other property dispute, a competent Rhode Island real estate attorney can help. The experienced real estate lawyers at Bilodeau Capalbo can assist you in evaluating your claim and taking action if necessary. Time is often of the essence in property disputes, and whether you are seeking to enforce an adverse possession claim or dispute one, consulting an attorney early could make the difference between success and failure. Call us at 401-300-4055 to talk about your issue and schedule a free consultation with a qualified Rhode Island real estate attorney today.