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  1. #1

    Question Claiming Land by Adverse Possession in North Carolina

    My question involves real estate located in the State of: NC

    My first post so be easy on me.

    There are several parcels of land listed as "holes" or parcels with no known owner where I live. I have done a title search on each piece of property and found that these tracts are residual property from a foreclosure sale from a very large parcel. The company that was foreclosed on no longer exist and all the other property was sold off by the banks except for these tracts. One parcel was to be "open space" (per the deed and plat)and the others just look like property that was missed during the sale. Need some advice on how I should proceed. Looking at quitclaiming the property but not sure exactly how I can pull that off since I can't deed something to myself. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Claiming Land in North Carolina

    the only way I can suggest you gain title would be to adversely possess the lots for the requisite 20 year period (and fulfill any other obligations imposed by statute). At that point, you could file a quiet title action.

    with the open space; not real sure of the owner but you cannot claim adverse possession against state owned property. So, if that is state property (or government of some sort) it cannot be claimed by AP.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Claiming Land in North Carolina

    You filling out a quit claim will do absolutely nothing. Quit claiming doesn't allow you to transfer property you don't own (whether it be to yourself or anybody else). Perhaps the term you are looking for is Quiet Title. It's unlikely you'll be able to prevail in such an action. The one dedicated as open space is likely to remain open space. Unless you have open, notorious, and hostile use of one the other properties, or you can make some assertion that it should have been included in your adjancent lot or the like, you'll not pick up ownership.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Claiming Land by Adverse Possession in North Carolina

    There are several parcels of land listed as "holes" or parcels with no known owner where I live.
    If you are relying on a county GIS parcel map for this information, some or all of the parcels may be simply the result of the technician's inability to quickly and accurately deal with the new information.

    The appearance that the holes are unowned would be a good indication of the confusion.

    Many time holes or "gaps" which show up on maps do not actually exist when the parcels are analyzed and surveyed on the ground by a licensed surveyor.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Claiming Land by Adverse Possession in North Carolina

    Thanks for all the replies. The property is not state property and I know that these parcels exist and are not really "holes". They are mapped correctly as plats exist showing the parcels and who was the previous owner, the dissolved business. The "open space" was designated so by the dissolved business and I would think once the business dissolved, any designations of land would no longer apply unless otherwise stated when the proeprty was sold. But this is residual property that was overlooked when lands was sold and deeds were done and "should" be on the tax rolls as belong to someone. I do believe quit claims are valid deeds but I understand they are saying the grantor is saying he is conveying whatever interest he may have in the property, 100% or 0%. But if the quit claim is the only deed on record for the property and a tax bill is being paid for that property, I would think that would stand for something. Transferring the propety is not important to me at this time. Just want to establish onwership of the adandoned property. Thanks Again.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Claiming Land by Adverse Possession in North Carolina

    They are mapped correctly as plats exist showing the parcels and who was the previous owner, the dissolved business
    then there is an owner. You simply need to find the owner.

    and you have no idea about the purpose of a deed. Since you own 0% of the property, you can write QC deeds all day long and they are meaningless. Deeds convey interest the grantor owns to the grantee. You own nothing so that is all you could transfer.

    as I said, the only way for you to establish ownership is to either buy it from the owner or claim it under adverse possession after 20 years and file a suit to quiet title.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Claiming Land by Adverse Possession in North Carolina

    So the parcels are all owned by "dissolved businesses".

    If the owners, or their successors or assigns in title, continue to pay the taxes, you will be starting the 20 year adverse possession. Of course these taxpayers can come along sometime late in the 19th year and have you ejected from the property and you are done. You need to possess it the whole time, while keeping out the true owners.

    If no one steps forward to pay the taxes, a process will start where the county hires attorneys to do a thorough title search in an attempt to find the rightful owners. If you step forward and offer to pay the taxes, but have no existence in the chain of title, you will likely be rejected (a bogus quit claim deed will be easily sniffed out, and may cause you and the "grantor" to undergo some questioning).

    If that search process fails, the property will go into a property tax foreclosure. It will be sold to the highest bidder at a public county auction in the courthouse. Durham County, for example, has all of the information, with all of the details, on it's website.

    And in the case of "dissolved businesses" which have not been paying their property taxes there may be state and federal claims in the form of liens on the property.

    So the point is that adverse possession is not a practical or even an impractical means of the OP to gain title to the parcels.

    If the OP wants to own the parcels, there are two possibilities, as I see it:

    1. Do a title search to find the current title holder(s) and purchase from them on negotiated terms.

    2. Purchase them from the county when they are offered at auction in a tax foreclosure.

    Get an attorney on board to advise in either case.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Claiming Land by Adverse Possession in North Carolina

    The dissolved business was a corporation, so there is technically no owner I could contact. Thanks again for the replies and I didn't mean to step on any toes with the quit claim issue. I have seen many quit claim deeds filed and taxes being paid on abandoned property. I understand the purpose of deeds as I work with them all the time but I don't work in a law office. If the property has been there for 30 years or more and no one has placed a claim on it, it is probably for the very same reasons you guys are telling me I can't claim it. Thanks again.

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    El Dorado County, CA
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    Default Re: Claiming Land by Adverse Possession in North Carolina

    Yes, I'm sure you have seen many Quit Claim Deeds on file, and no doubt most, if not all were valid in conveying some manner of title.

    What it looks like you are proposing here is that you file QCDs with you as the grantee 9the person receiving title). But who would be the grantor? No deed is valid without a valid grantor. Therefore, if you were to file QCDs with you as both grantee and grantor, no valid title interest is conveyed. It wouldn't matter what deed form you filed. In any case, you have no current valid title interest and so have nothing to convey. It is doubtful that the County would even permit a deed from a person to oneself to be filed anyway. If you did have any valid title interest, then granting that interest to yourself would be pointless and serve only to confuse other valid records in the system.

    In LS's first post, he made the point that many of these "holes" apparent on paper probably exist only on paper or in the County GIS. If a competent surveyor were to actually survey the boundaries where these "holes" exist, other than in cases where there was a parcel deliberatley retained by the now dissolved company, any land would actually be found to be a part of one parcel or another, or a combination thereof of parcels around the "hole". These holes or gaps are often formed on tax maps or GIS because of deficient measurements in the existent records of the surrounding properties and in reality, do not exist.

    Parcels designated as open space were almost certainly so designated as a condition of approval of a land subdivision or other development. As such, they have almost no value to a private owner. If you were to somehow gain ownership of one of these, you would gain the satisfaction of knowing that you are preserving some little green space for the birds and bunnies to live in amongst the urban sprawl, gain the liability of otherwise maintaining the property in a safe and clean condition, and have the civic satisfaction of keeping up with any tax libility that goes with the property. As a designated open space parcel, you would not have any development rights and therefore have an essentially unmarketable (not technically, but actually worthless in the marketplace) parcel.

    If some of these other "holes" do happen to be actual real parcels on the ground, again LS gave you the only viable routes for you or any non-adjacent owner to gain title: 1. Find out which person or entity gained title and offer to buy it. Someone owns it. Could be the last owners of the dissolved company, a receiver company assigned by a court to dispose of the dissolved company's assets and pay off creditors (most likely), or creditors who received the property in judgment or under some other agreement which was never or has not yet been perfected in title by having a deed filed. or 2. Wait for the properties to go into tax foreclosure and buy them at auction.

    Claims by AP will most readily be available to those holding title to adjoining properties and making actual use of any property that may exist in the gaps. If any of the real parcels go into tax foreclosure before those landowners perfect any claims of AP, they lose the ability to do so from that point forward.

    In short, there is virtually no way you are going to be able to get something for nothing out of these apparent or real gaps in title.
    I'm a surveyor, not your surveyor & not an attorney.
    Advice is general survey, not legal. Hire a local professional for specific advice.

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