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Adverse Possession Survey  

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(@skeeter1996)
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I've got a client who is a lot owner along the Missouri River. The Developer years ago left a gap between the subdivision and the river. The lot owner wants to acquire the land between his lot and the river. There is no owner of record for the property between him and the river, so no one is paying taxes on it. I'm thinking we could do a boundary line adjustment between the clients property and the river. File the survey and mean while the client would fence it and pay taxes on the property. In five years he will have perfected his Adverse Possession claim. This property is in Montana.

Anybody see any problems with this?

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JKinAK
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Posted by: Skeeter1996

I've got a client who is a lot owner along the Missouri River. The Developer years ago left a gap between the subdivision and the river. ... There is no owner of record for the property between him and the river...

I'll bet you a growler of good beer that there IS an owner of record.

You already know who it is: the original subdivider (OS) (they had title with a riparian boundary but subdivided using fixed lot lines).

The OS took title to that land but they never deeded it away... so unless there was an action taking the land (e.g. tax foreclosure) then it's still owned by the OS (or their heirs).

If you can find the heirs, make an offer to buy the land from them. Watch out for back property taxes!

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(@tfdoubleyou)
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I would make sure he understands he's still assuming some risk. A perfected adverse possession claim is still just a claim.

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Daniel Ralph
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No apparent owner. Why do a boundary line adjustment? Why not just fence the area but wouldn't that create a landlocked parcel? 

Me thinks that it would be easier, quicker and more satisfying to seek out heirs or acquire quiet title rights through a legal process than the path described. That said, I don't practice in Montana nor do I have any familiarity in the system there.  

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Williwaw
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Might be a good idea to go back to the original patent and see if the parcel has riparian rights. Here if it involves accretion, reliction or avulsion along a navigable river, the state owns it until you go through a process with them to survey and patent your claim to it. No AP against the sovereign. I don't know how it works there though. Personally I wouldn't wager a growler of beer against JK's take though.

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aliquot
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Posted by: Williwaw

Here if it involves accretion, reliction or avulsion along a navigable river, the state owns it until you go through a process with them to survey and patent your claim to it. 

That's not true. The state doesn't own accretions. The riparian owner does. The quite title process is a way to provide a written document to match the required record of survey. It was brought about to satisfy lenders and title companies. The state doesn't issue a patent for the accretions, becasue they cant patent what they don't own. The court issues a clerk's deed which is the written proof the title companies crave that the riparian owner owned the accretions all along.


 

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Williwaw
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Thanks for clarifying that aliquot. I stand corrected.  Excellent explanation.

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Frank Willis
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I personally don't believe I would recommend as a surveyor a way for someone to gain land that is not theirs.  I am not saying you did that.  That land might be presently legitimately owned by others, and taking land away from someone by possessing it adversely is a serious stride.  I'd recommend a very thorough analysis first, but I imagine your client might be hesitant to pay for that because of the possible bad news or the alert to the potential owning party.  I recommend that if you do it, and if you show on your survey that it is possessed by him, be ready to back that up.  And be ready for some very, very serious cross examination, including possibly a copy of the thread on the website, and be ready for a non-profit potential fight.  I recommend a VERY intense analysis and have his lawyer involved in the analysis.

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