By Terence Guerriere, Esq., Executive Vice President, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services
Adverse possession is a method of acquiring title to real property by possessing it for a statutory period under certain conditions. The doctrine of adverse possession has been a part of American law since the founding of our country; a precept of western civilization’s legal system for centuries. However, perhaps it is time to recognize that the idea that an owner of real property should lose title to his land, simply because someone else has been using it, is a relic of the past.
The primary reason for the development of adverse possession law was to promote the productive use of property. If an absent owner did not tend to his land, the land would not produce food or other benefits for society. This certainly made sense during the time of an agrarian society. Today, however, there is little fear that we would not be able to feed, clothe and house our citizens by allowing land to lay fallow.
Is it time to lift the burden from the land owner of record and shift it to the possessor of land he doesn’t own?