How to make an adverse possession claim...

… in Maryland if I openly occupied land and treated it as my own without protest or permission from the owner?

Is this really done successfully?

Well I don’t know about Maryland, but in some juristictions, it is theoretically possible if you do it for long enough (say, 20 years), without permission and possess it to the exclusion of all others. There may be some other requirements I forgot.

I’ve never seen an actual case of a claim for adverse possession, although I don’t practice in that field.

O.K., I googled a bit and there are many examples of real life AP claims that you can easily find on the net.

Consider a hypothetical case where Mr. A builds a fence around his property but the fence is too big and encroaches slightly on Mr. B’s land. Mr. B doesn’t take any action and allows Mr. A to continue to possess the encroached land for N number of years. At the expiration of the required number of years (lets say 20), allowing Mr. A to successfully prosecute a claim of Adverse Possession is merely preserving the status quo. That’s one justification often cited in favor of AP law.

Here is a link to a good summary of one case

If we are talking about 20 years being typical, I aint got no chance.

Not like I thought I had a chance. Details:

There is a gravel parking lot at the end of the street that does not belong to the local community. About ten people park there and the community cuts the grass in the field around the gravel. The property was just sold (does this reset the time that I have been open occupying the property?) and I’m sure that building will claim the lot within a year or two. I have kept two to four cars on that lot since 1989 - Maybe I should have built a garage on the land - lol.

Property law ain’t really my thing, but I think it’s possible that your community may have acquired an easement in gross by prescription.

Google on that a bit and see what comes up. “Easement” is the key word, and it means the right to use land owned by someone else (and the easement is itself an interest in the property for some purposes), “in gross” just means a bunch of people (the community) own the easement instead of one person, and “by prescription” is how the people acquired the easement, and its kind of like adverse possession.

I fully reserve the right to be totally wrong about this, so don’t get your hopes up.

20 years is common, but the period derives from a limitations statute, which is different in each state. Some states even have different time periods depending on the circumstances. In Illinois, the usual period is 20 years, but it can be as short as 7 in some cases. I have no idea what Maryland’s period is, and I would hesitate to trust the Findlaw answer of someone who is not a Maryland attorney. (Mainly for the reason described above - there might be exceptions to the usual limitations period that might not be readily findable.)

Who holds record title to the property now? It appears that it is not the municipality, which is good for any adverse claimant, because adverse possession generally doesn’t work against government-owned land. On the other hand, there are sometimes special rules that would make the municipality the owner (in a way similar to adverse possession) if the town has been using the tract for a road or similar purpose.

You ask about a sale of property resetting the clock. It generally doesn’t. If your grantor (of an adjoining tract) adversely possessed the questioned land for 15 years, and you bought the adjoining property and continued to occupy the adjacent, disputed area for another 5 years, you can tack the two time period together.

There are other prerequisites for a valid adverse possession claim. Your possession has to be hostile, open, notorious, and under claim of right. If you’re on the land with permission, you fail at least two of these tests. Often the payment of real estate taxes is relevant.

Disclaimer. Although IAAL, I’m not your lawyer, and this is not meant to be legal advice for your situation. See a lawyer licensed in your state for that. Land ownership rules vary quite a bit from state to state, and some nuances are obscure, so any lawyer you talk to should regularly deal with real estate issues, ideally in a litigation setting. (Someone who only does house closings might not ever see this kind of issue. A real estate litigator most likely will have more familiarity with the issues involved.)

20 years was the standard at common law, but many (most?) jurisdictions have lowered it by statute.