We live in NC, have used land with permission of the former owner for 17 yrs, new owner wants to take it back?

We have used the land with the former owner’s (now deceased) permission. Land has been sold and new owner has put up survey stakes where the property line was originally. The use of this land has been open and known to the daughters of the deceased owner. There was never any type of legal document written up with permission to use the land. We have built a shed and the fence has been there for the 17 years, in the same place that the previous owner put it. My husband father and uncle owned the adjoining land years ago and when my husband built the house on his fathers land his uncle gave him permission to use this portion of land. As I said, his uncle is now deceased and his cousin has bought the land, and has had it surveyed and the property line goes right through our exsisting driveway….HELP!! Thanks!!

6 Responses to “We live in NC, have used land with permission of the former owner for 17 yrs, new owner wants to take it back?”

  1. AdamKadmon Says:

    First off, they cannot get rid of an existing easement, meaning that your road (driveway) should be able to stay, at least legally. Everything else is HIS to do with as he wishes. Unless the taxes have been paid by you for the last 7 years or so, you probably will have trouble (unless you own the land, I never quit understood that part). Good luck!

  2. Max Says:

    It seems to me that there is nothing you can do about it.

  3. JFAD Says:

    Traditional common law provided a method for someone to obtain title to land through use. The common law rules for adverse possession have been codified under both federal and state statutes. A typical statute allows a person to get title to land from the actual owner simply by using the land, out in the open for all to see. For example, your neighbor built a fence on your land with the intention of taking the property, paid property taxes, and you knew about it but did nothing. If this continued for a period of time set by state law, your neighbor may be able to claim this property as his/her own. The theory is that, by not disputing your neighbor’s use of your property through a lawsuit, you, as the actual owner have abandoned your rights to the property.

    Also, virtually every property is burdened by or benefits from an easement. Property owners should understand the legal consequences of those easements and where they are located. Unless properly recorded, an easement might not be valid except when it is obvious by long continuous use, such as overhead power lines. When someone uses part of your property without your permission, and without a prior recorded easement, he or she might become entitled to permanent use of that easement. The legal requirements to acquire a prescriptive easement over someone’s land requires (a) open, (b) notorious (obvious), (c) hostile (without permission), and (d) continuous use of part of another’s property without permission for the number of years required by state law. Payment of property taxes is not required, as it is to obtain title by adverse possession. Because prescriptive easements can be shared the hostile use need not be exclusive. Use can be shared with the legal owner and/or other hostile prescriptive easement claimants.After meeting the time and use requirements a prescriptive easement acquirer can perfect the easement by bringing a quiet title lawsuit against the property’s legal owner. An experienced real estate attorney is usually needed to prove the prescriptive easement requirements.

  4. m2 Says:

    Permission to use land with nothing in writing is just that..
    it is verbal..
    the uncle/oldman/brother died and had a will…there was a reading/probate (where were you then), did you get a piece of land left in the will?? there is a probate on the will and you should have filed your dispute then..
    you were left nothing in the will
    who knows what this person did "use" may to him when he went home and told his family was temporary..obvious when he died he did not leave it to you but his daughters..
    now during the probate /after the probate ( a legal) 2 more legal happened…the daughters got the title (how much time 6 months, 2 years) you did nothing?? no paper work?? not left in the will?
    taxes were paid..and obviously your family did nothing to claim your land..against the 2 legal so far..
    now the daughters…have called in and advertised and sold the land..another change of documents/title ads run..etc
    and what did you do to ..make your claim..
    taxes were paid…and a will read…
    now…the new owner is ..getting the property properly surveyed..and going to start work..
    the new owner (now 3rd)..is.. probably very well aware of their rights and knows..what they can do with the land and has paid for the permits to do this legally..

    this is my opinion and ..that is that..
    the court may ..have another choice..but the court will not violate the city laws.. which includes lot sizes..and where driveways are..etc..some places allow double driveways right on the property line..and maybe this is how the sisters claimed the land when they sold it..and they believed the father paid for this driveway..
    you obviously are not talking..
    you have not filed………in 3 changes of court actions
    you have not called the city by-laws..for your rights…or the courts
    you need to know..the building codes..
    one can only assume..what the codes are..
    what the sisters were told..
    use is a broad word and obviously you were not given the land in the will..and you did not file..for the land in the will hearing..
    you were left nothing i assume in the will..
    i believe a reasonable time has lapsed and enough legal documents..that were not disputed..that you lost any rights..and maybe have not..if the by-laws do not allow this ..
    you may end being billed for putting the driveway in..
    or you can offer to buy the driveway..
    you did not talk to the family..
    you did not file..
    it was their land..you should have gone to them..
    going into court with documents that you paid for the driveway may result in your having to pay for the driveway to be removed..
    know your by-laws..you may end up with a ticket for trespassing.
    you were left nothing in the will
    possibly you may be able to buy your driveway back legally
    eg..your lots are on a dead end street..yours is the last lot..temporarily the old man said..yes use my land..(until your financially able to finish the road etc to your land)..now you go to court for an easement..(just an eg)..I do not think the court will give it..it is 17 years…and the will was read..you were not given the land..now this is my opinion..maybe a judge will…the sisters owned the land..and then sold it…still you did not ask to buy this land..during this process or talk to the sisters.. somehow..i can’t see it happening..to go into the court and say..but I always used this..is the same as saying..the law was there..the agreement..and i ignored it..the old man died and did not leave us the land in his will…..and I assumed..i did not check or ask..is ignorance of the law … I simply ignored..the old owner / the will/ the new owner..and now the 3rd owner.. because I was here and always here…and got away with..not having..to stay on my land..
    an easement is usually put on by a governing authority.. and if you look it up..it is to provide a service..as gas/hydro/water..not a driveway.. a right-of-way..is issued when nothing else is available.. and if your talking a city lot..your by-laws may be such that this is trepass and you get billed to remove that driveway..that the uncle/owner then sisters/owner did not enforce this.. you also did not go and offer to buy this..or confirm your usage..just went on..taking more and more…they may have felt completly terrorized by your family..and sold it..to not have to deal with a problem..

  5. Rob S Says:

    Wow, seems like an important question to put up to a "vote" or to want "free" advice for. You do get what you pay for…

    Anyway, first contact an attorney that specializes in real estate and set an appointment. You should be able to find local attorneys via that if you pay a referral fee, you get a half hour or an hour of "free" consultation. Contact a local law school as to where to call for a referral, some lawyer referral agencies are expensive and get you nowhere fast.

    Second, dig out any documentation you have to show how long you have used the property for your driveway and shed. So it was verbal. You think judges are stupid? 17 years is a long time for someone to use another’s property without the owner protesting. Actions do speak louder than words in this case.

    Third take a lot of photos before your relative shows up in the middle of the night and tears everything down.

    Fourth, actually go to the attorney. If you indeed have used the property for 17 years and can document that, likely you can continue to use that property. I’m sure your relatives know quite well that you have a legal right for access and figure they can simply scare you away. I suspect if you abandon the easement, then you may lose all rights to it.

    So before you do anything or agree to anything, get sound legal advice relevant to your state. And don’t complain about the cost of the lawyer. If he charges $300 per hour but knows the law, it may be the best spent $300 of your life. A good lawyer will also tell you if it is worth fighting, or if you are better off with another lawyer with a lower hourly rate. In one firm you will usually find a variety of hourly rates depending on the attorney’s experience.

    Ask questions! No question is too dumb when you are paying for the advice!

  6. Geni Says:

    If you have made any monetary contributions (such as taxes, insurance, improvements) and have the proper receipts or documentation, you have a vested interest in the property and are entitled to some fair compensation. You had to know that your agreement wasn’t legal and not entirely enforceable. If you have any living quarters (human or animal) on their property, you may have a case. Even so, you might want to think about making them evict you formally at which time you will file your countersuit to reimbursed for any investment you have contributed. You need a lawyer! Good Luck

    By the way, verbal agreements ARE legal and enforceable if able to be proven. But keep in mind an agreement of use is not the same as ownership privileges.