The Court of Appeals of Maryland, the highest court in the state, recently decided the case of Breeding v. Koste. This case started as a dispute between two neighbors over approximately ¼ acre of land on the eastern shore between their two properties. Koste, and his relatives had lived on their parcel of land for approximately 70 years. According to the land records, their land did not include the ¼ acre parcel. However, for most of the time they had owned the land they had used the parcel as a recreation area, as it was on a creek. They had built an access road to the parcel, as well as a dock that they could use for boating and fishing. Koste’s family had always believed that it was their land, and had treated as such.
At some point, the Breeding family realized that in fact they owned that land, and attempted to oust Koste from it. A lawsuit was filed, where Koste claimed that the property should be theirs due to the doctrine of adverse possession. Adverse possession, and its related doctrine prescriptive easement, allows for a person to gain title to land by making an adverse, exclusive and uninterrupted use of another’s real property for twenty years. The issue in this case was whether Koste had used the land enough for it to be considered use of the land. Koste had not built a house there, and didn’t live on that parcel of land. He used it solely for recreation, and the improvements built were semi-permanent items such as docks, duck blinds and storage boxes.
The court found that this was sufficient. The Koste family had always believed that this parcel was part of their parcel of land from the time they had obtained the land back in the 1940’s. The real owners of the parcel did nothing to protect their rights during that term, so the property eventually became the Koste’s by adverse possession. This case shows how important it is for people to protect any interests they may have in real property. If they do not protect them, they may be lost.
For more information on legal matters related to real estate, contact Towson real estate lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles. We are experienced real estate litigation lawyers in Maryland. Call us at 443-589-0150 or contact us online.