What is the Period for Adverse Possession in Michigan?
07/02/2009 - Category:Real Property - Encroachment - State: MI #17319
I have a neighbor who cleaned out the fence row between our fields 9 years ago. He then had it surveyed and without us knowing at the time put steel posts on our side of the line. Over the following 9 years he has moved over on our side a little more. So this year I had it surveyed and found out that he was on our side. He now states that he has the right to maintain 2 feet on our property. Does he, and is there anything we can do about it?
Adjoining landowners can find themselves in disputes over fences, overhanging branches, water rights, subjacent and lateral support and party walls. A boundary is every separation, natural or artificial (man-made), which marks the confines or line of division of two contiguous estates. A river or other stream is a natural boundary, and in that case the center of the stream is the line.
Boundaries are frequently marked by partition fences, ditches, hedges, trees, etc. When such a fence is built by one of the owners of the land, on his own premises, it belongs to him exclusively; when built by both at joint expense, each is the owner of that part on his own land. When the boundary is a hedge and a single ditch, it is presumed to belong to the person on whose side the hedge is. But if there is a ditch on each side of the hedge, or no ditch at all, the hedge is presumed to be the common property of both proprietors. A tree growing in the boundary line is the joint property of both owners of the land.
Encroachments, whether by fence or by structure, generally become either a boundary line dispute (if the neighbors cannot reach agreement) or become the basis for a boundary line agreement (if the neighbors can reach an agreement on the location of a new, “adjusted,” common boundary-line.
As a general rule, an encroachment exists only when a fence or structure lies on both sides of the recorded boundary line for a period of time less than the period of the state’s statute of limitations for civil actions regarding real property.
You may wish to consult an experienced attorney to attempt to negotiate a boundary-line agreement with your neighbor. In doing so, you would at least attempt and at best would succeed in saving both you and your neighbor significant sums of money that otherwise might be expended on litigation.
A quiet title or trespass to try title action is the method of determining title to lands. In a quiet title action, it is possible to ask the court to issue an injunction to force another to do or refrain from doing an act. An injunction is an equitable remedy that the court may order when money damages will be inadequate to remedy the harm suffered.
In the case of an encroachment, a plaintiff may be awarded the fair value of the property. Typically, the court will determine value of property based upon expert evidence as to the value of comparable property in the location. In order to award punitive damages for an encroachment, courts have held that the plaintiff needs to prove the defendant acted with recklessness that shows a conscious disregard of property rights. Punitive damages are designed to deter conduct that was based on wrongful intent, usually requiring some proof of fraud, malice, oppression, or other wrongful and intentional motives.
The basis of a defense to encroachment is adverse possession. The doctrine of "adverse possession" is one of the most interesting in the field of real property law. Adverse possession is a means by which someone may acquire title to the land of another through certain acts over a defined period of time. Such acts must continue uninterrupted for the time period defined by state laws, which vary by state. The time period in Michigan is 15 years. To establish adverse possession the claimant must show by clear and cogent proof that possession is actual, visible, open, notorious, exclusive, hostile, under cover of claim or right, and continuous and uninterrupted for the statutory period of fifteen years.
Payment of taxes alone isn't sufficient to claim a property by adverse possession. In general, the acts of possession must be overt, hostile, exclusive, uninterrupted, and under a claim of right, etc., so as to give the owner or others claiming entitlement to possession notice and an opportunity to counter the adverse possession. Payment of real property taxes and making improvements (such as paving or fencing) for the statutory period, which varies by state, are evidence of adverse possession but cannot be used by a person with no claim to title other than possession. Certain public property is not subject to adverse possession. Some states require that the possession be "under color of title," or that the person must believe that he has the right to possess it and has some form of document or is relying on some fact that while not actually conveying title, appears to do so. In addition, many states require concurrent the payment of property taxes for a specified period of time, and a few states also require that improvements be made upon the land. Eventually, the possessor is required to file for title with the county recorder. The actual owner then has a limited amount of time in which to challenge the newcomer's title. Essentially, the owner's only argument is to claim some sort of disability; such as age, mental instability, or imprisonment. The owner is not required to do much in order to stop the possessor from acquiring title; merely sending the possessor a note granting permission to be there will usually suffice. Various rules exist regarding the continuousness of the possession and the ability to "tack" various periods of possession together in order to satisfy the time of possession requirement. A claimant is permitted to add his predecessors' periods of possession if he can establish privity of estate either by mention of the disputed lands in instruments of conveyance or orally at the time of transfer.
If a surveyor is negligent is surveying property, by failing to use the standard of care and skills typical in the profession, and that negligence causes harm to another, it is possible that the surveyor may be liable for all or part of a claim brought against the person harmed.
An easement may be created by agreement which grants a privilege of a specific and limited use of the land of another. A right of way is a form of an easement granted by the property owner that gives another the right to travel over and use the owner's land as long as it is not inconsistent with the owner's use and enjoyment of the land.
The following are MI statutes: 600.5801 Limitation on actions; time periods; defendant claiming title under deed, court-ordered sale, tax deed, or will; other cases.
Sec. 5801. No person may bring or maintain any action for the recovery or possession of any lands or make any entry upon any lands unless, after the claim or right to make the entry first accrued to himself or to someone through whom he claims, he commences the action or makes the entry within the periods of time prescribed by this section.
(1) When the defendant claims title to the land in question by or through some deed made upon the sale of the premises by an executor, administrator, guardian, or testamentary trustee; or by a sheriff or other proper ministerial officer under the order, judgment, process, or decree of a court or legal tribunal of competent jurisdiction within this state, or by a sheriff upon a mortgage foreclosure sale the period of limitation is 5 years.
(2) When the defendant claims title under some deed made by an officer of this state or of the United States who is authorized to make deeds upon the sale of lands for taxes assessed and levied within this state the period of limitation is 10 years.
(3) When the defendant claims title through a devise in any will, the period of limitation is 15 years after the probate of the will in this state.
(4) In all other cases under this section, the period of limitation is 15 years.
600.5851 Disabilities of infancy or insanity; tacking of successive disabilities prohibited; year of grace; removing disability of infancy; claim alleging medical malpractice accruing to person 8 years old or less or 13 years old or less; disability of imprisonment; "release from imprisonment" defined.
(1) Except as otherwise provided in subsections (7) and (8), if the person first entitled to make an entry or bring an action under this act is under 18 years of age or insane at the time the claim accrues, the person or those claiming under the person shall have 1 year after the disability is removed through death or otherwise, to make the entry or bring the action although the period of limitations has run. This section does not lessen the time provided for in section 5852.
(2) The term insane as employed in this chapter means a condition of mental derangement such as to prevent the sufferer from comprehending rights he or she is otherwise bound to know and is not dependent on whether or not the person has been judicially declared to be insane.
(3) To be considered a disability, the infancy or insanity must exist at the time the claim accrues. If the disability comes into existence after the claim has accrued, a court shall not recognize the disability under this section for the purpose of modifying the period of limitations.
(4) A person shall not tack successive disabilities. A court shall recognize only those disabilities that exist at the time the claim first accrues and that disable the person to whom the claim first accrues for the purpose of modifying the period of limitations.
(5) A court shall recognize both of the disabilities of infancy or insanity that disable the person to whom the claim first accrues at the time the claim first accrues. A court shall count the year of grace provided in this section from the termination of the last disability to the person to whom the claim originally accrued that has continued from the time the claim accrued, whether this disability terminates because of the death of the person disabled or for some other reason.
(6) With respect to a claim accruing before the effective date of the age of majority act of 1971, Act No. 79 of the Public Acts of 1971, being sections 722.51 to 722.55 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, the disability of infancy is removed as of the effective date of Act No. 79 of the Public Acts of 1971, as to persons who were at least 18 years of age but less than 21 years of age on January 1, 1972, and is removed as of the eighteenth birthday of a person who was under 18 years of age on January 1, 1972.
(7) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (8), if, at the time a claim alleging medical malpractice accrues to a person under section 5838a the person has not reached his or her eighth birthday, a person shall not bring an action based on the claim unless the action is commenced on or before the person's tenth birthday or within the period of limitations set forth in section 5838a, whichever is later. If, at the time a claim alleging medical malpractice accrues to a person under section 5838a, the person has reached his or her eighth birthday, he or she is subject to the period of limitations set forth in section 5838a.
(8) If, at the time a claim alleging medical malpractice accrues to a person under section 5838a, the person has not reached his or her thirteenth birthday and if the claim involves an injury to the person's reproductive system, a person shall not bring an action based on the claim unless the action is commenced on or before the person's fifteenth birthday or within the period of limitations set forth in section 5838a, whichever is later. If, at the time a claim alleging medical malpractice accrues to a person under section 5838a, the person has reached his or her thirteenth birthday and the claim involves an injury to the person's reproductive system, he or she is subject to the period of limitations set forth in section 5838a.
(9) If a person was serving a term of imprisonment on the effective date of the 1993 amendatory act that added this subsection, and that person has a cause of action to which the disability of imprisonment would have been applicable under the former provisions of this section, an entry may be made or an action may be brought under this act for that cause of action within 1 year after the effective date of the 1993 amendatory act that added this subsection, or within any other applicable period of limitation provided by law.
(10) If a person died or was released from imprisonment at any time within the period of 1 year preceding the effective date of the 1993 amendatory act that added this subsection, and that person had a cause of action to which the disability of imprisonment would have been applicable under the former provisions of this section on the date of his or her death or release from imprisonment, an entry may be made or an action may be brought under this act for that cause of action within 1 year after the date of his or her death or release from imprisonment, or within any other applicable period of limitation provided by law.
(11) As used in this section, "release from imprisonment" means either of the following:
(a) A final release or discharge from imprisonment in a county jail.
(b) Release on parole or a final release or discharge from imprisonment in a state or federal correctional facility.
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07/02/2009 - Category: Encroachment - State: MI #17319
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