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REAL ESTATE 82: Plaintiff filed quiet title asserting that it could satisfy the elements of adverse possession.

This case concerns a dispute over a 193-square-foot parcel, referred to as the “gap parcel,” located in Michigan, between two pieces of property owned, or formerly owned, by plaintiff, and abutting property owned by defendant.

There is no dispute that defendant owns the portion of Lot 172 north of plaintiff’s portion of Lot 172, and the portion of Lot 173 west of plaintiff’s portion of Lot 172. In 2000, defendant sent a letter to plaintiff requesting the removal of the stones-gravel that he had placed on his property. Defendant also requested replacement of the fence that plaintiff took down on his property. There appears is no dispute that neither of these demands were met.

Adverse Possession

Plaintiff filed a complaint seeking to quiet title to the gap parcel in its favor, asserting that it could satisfy the elements of adverse possession.

A party claiming adverse possession must show clear and cogent proof of possession that is actual, continuous, open, notorious, exclusive, hostile, and uninterrupted for the relevant statutory period. The statutory period is 15 years. Regarding the “exclusive” requirement, an adverse possessor must have the intention of holding the property as his own to the exclusion of all others.

Bench Trial

Defendant denied these allegations and a bench trial was held. Following testimony, the trial court found that plaintiff had established all the elements of an adverse-possession claim. Explaining its findings, the trial court twice asserted that there was no credible evidence presented demonstrating that plaintiff’s possession of the property was interrupted or to dispute plaintiff’s arguments regarding any of the elements of adverse possession.

Defendant asserts that he ousted plaintiff from the gap parcel in 2000 when he told plaintiff to cease use of the land and sent a letter. Defendant also asserts there was uncontroverted testimony from several witnesses and [defendant] himself demonstrating that plaintiff abandoned any adverse interest when defendant moved in 2005. However, the evidence at trial demonstrated that no action was ever taken to comply with the demands in the 2000 letter, and that plaintiff continued using the gap parcel well beyond the July 2000 letter and even beyond 2005 when defendant moved headquarters.

Clear and cogent evidence established that plaintiff’s possession of the gap parcel was open, notorious, and hostile. Most critically, defendant admitted at trial that plaintiff’s use of the gap parcel was against his interest in the gap parcel, and the July 2000 letter demonstrates that defendant had actual knowledge of plaintiff’s use of the gap parcel and sought to end its adverse use of the gap parcel.

The trial court entered a judgment quieting title to the gap parcel in plaintiff’s favor.

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