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Connecticut Adverse Possession: A Lesson In Tacking

This is a blawg for the people. What people you may ask? I answer: you people.

The number one term that people have searched Lord Google to find this blog, drumroll please…….”Richard Cabelus.” Rich is a great guy, studying for the bar and deserves this small bit of internet fame.

The number two term for people to find this blog is “adverse possession.”  Evidently, adverse possession is to legal search terms what Jessica Alba is to actresses – hot!

So you’re leading me here. You search for it and I write about it.

The Appellate Court of Connecticut, in Porter v. Morrill, 108 Conn. App. 652 (2008), upheld the ruling of a trial court which found that evidence was insufficient to support a finding that a builder had not ousted the landowner in possession for 15 years.

In 2003, the builder began paying property taxes on the disputed parcel, staked a lot, dug test holes for a septic system, blasted rock, and removed trees. All of these actions were certainly open, notorious and hostile to the landowner’s possession of the disputed property.

In Connecticut, to acquire title to land by adverse possession a claimant must oust an owner of possession and keep such owner out without interruption for 15 years by an open visible and exclusive possession under a claim of right with the intent to use the property as his own without the consent of the owner.

The issue in Porter  was whether or not the builder had satisfied the 15 year requirement of exclusive possession. The builder had entered into contracts to purchase the lots in 2003. Clearly, the builder hadn’t used the land for 15 years.

Enter the tacking doctrine!

The tacking doctrine permits those who have owned property for less than 15 years to tack on the time the property was held in adverse possession by their predecessors in title.  To qualify under the tacking doctrine, the claimant must show that their predecessors in title intended to convey the disputed parcel to them.

The Court in Porter found that the builder did not present evidence that his predecessors used the disputed land in a similar fashion and was therefore unable to prove a claim for adverse possession.