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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    2

    Default Adverse Possesion in Michigan

    We purchased a home 15 years ago that had an unmarked property line near the house (within 10 feet). The house was built by the previous owners and when they built the home they also cleared the land (wooded lot) and put in a lawn. No permission was ever obtained from the adjacent owners and the township inspectors never mentioned it. The lawn extended over the property line by approx. 20 feet. They maintained the lawn and subsequently we have been maintaining the lawn ever since. We have the contacted the owners of the adjacent property over the years with offers to purchase but they never took us seriously. We have since built a deck and retaining wall that now extend over the property line. We just received a notice that the owners of the adjacent property are selling and a developers is putting in a huge subdivision and they had a survey done which indicates we are encroaching with the deck and they have given us 30 days to remove the wall and encroachment. In Michigan I believe, 15 years is the statute of limitations on eviction of real estate trespass. While their lawyer talks about encroachment of structures over the line, he has never mentioned that the our "lawn" encroaches. Does our mowing, fertilizing, raking of leaves together with the previous owners meet any requirement for adverse possesion? Do we have any rights here? We want to buy the property but the owner is now got $$ in his eyes because of the developer. The owners have never questioned our use of the land.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    28,650

    Default Re: Adverse Possesion in Michigan

    From what you write, you imply that you always knew where the property line was, and knew that you were encroaching upon your neighbor's property throughout the full 15 year period. Is that the case?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Adverse Possesion in Michigan

    I didn't think knowledge of the line had anything to do with it unless the 15 years is a "color of title" statute? Realistically you are going to have to spend a lot of money on legal fees to try to prove adverse possession and you will probably lose. Courts do not look favorably on trying to take someone else's property. You knew when you built the deck you did not own the property.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Adverse Possesion in Michigan

    The property was never staked out when we purchased nor was it ever staked out even after 2 building projects both done with township inspections and all proper permits. Nobody asked for a staked out property. We simply knew roughly there was a line somewhere close by.
    Again the issue here in my mind, does the fact that the previous owner already exceeded the property line and put in a lawn and maintained it and we continued that practice, constitute encroachment? Or does it have to be a structure that encroaches? In Michigan there is simply a 15 year rule and since we have been here 15 years and the house was built 4 years prior that means the property has been maintained for 19 years.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    28,650

    Default Re: Adverse Possesion in Michigan

    The elements of adverse possession in Michigan are: actual, visible, open, notorious, exclusive, and uninterrupted possession of the property that was hostile to the owner and under cover of a claim of right for a fifteen-year period. Rozmarek v Plamondon, 419 Mich 287, 295; 351 NW2d 558 (1984). It is possible to gain a prescriptive easement, also, the elements of which are the same except for exclusivity (it's not necessary for the use by the person claiming the easement to have been exclusive). Plymouth Canton Community Crier, Inc v Prose, 242 Mich App 676, 679; 619 NW2d 725 (2000).

    It is possible to "tack" periods of successive adverse possession by successive owners (add the number of years together) in order to satisfy the statutory period, although it can be tricky to prove that all elements were satisfied by a former owner (or owners).

    Where there is an encroaching structure that crosses a property line, a court may fasion an equitable remedy depending upon the full facts and circumstances of the case. Some structures can be easily (or reasonably) moved; with others it would be too costly or too difficult, and a court may choose to fashion a remedy other than injunctive relief to end the trespass. See, e.g., Kratze v Independent Order of Oddfellows, 442 Mich 136, 142-143; 500 NW2d 115 (1993).

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