In an adverse possession case, the party seeking to claim the disputed property must demonstrate 20 years of continued, uninterrupted use of the land. One defense to this claim is to show the adverse possessor’s use was interrupted at some point in that 20-year period. This is known as “ouster.” What constitutes ouster that is sufficient to halt the running of the adverse possession clock is an issue of fact to be resolved by the trial court.
In the recent Supreme Court case Gallo v. Traina, the Court defined ouster as an act “as such as would put a reasonable notice that their adverse possession claim has been halted. A mere casual entry for a limited purpose by the record owner is not necessarily sufficient to destroy the adverse possession.” In the Gallo case, the placement of a post and fence and occasional yard work did not interfere with the adverse possessor’s use of the land which included paving, plowing, and placing walls.
To respond to an adverse possession claim with the defense of ouster, the defending party must catalog as many actions that occurred in a disputed parcel with photographs and descriptions so that a court could find that the adverse possessor knew or should have known that some other person was making use of the disputed land.
If you have any questions regarding adverse possession, please do not hesitate to contact an attorney at Hamblett & Kerrigan to discuss. The attorneys at Hamblett & Kerrigan have experience in handling such situations. Let Hamblett & Kerrigan use their experience to your advantage.
Andrew J. Piela is a Director at Hamblett & Kerrigan, P.A. Mr. Piela concentrates his practice in civil litigation, family law, probate and land use litigation. You can reach Attorney Piela by e-mail at [email protected].