As a title agent with more than 35 years of experience behind me I have heard many tales of adverse possession. I never thought I would be a victim of adverse possession myself, but sadly, I find that my property has been used, for some time evidently, by others for their enjoyment, without my knowledge, by actual, open, hostile, and continuous possession I need to file a title claim.
My husband and I share a peaceful home life on our 17 acre parcel of property with many of God’s creatures and for the most part they leave us alone and we leave them alone. There have been those rare occasions when we have had to remove (humanly) some of the inhabitants of our little slice of land, but those have been rare over the years.
I personally don’t like anything that even closely resembles a mouse, rat or other rodent and in fact I actually have a phobia about such creatures. As such, my husband is constantly taking steps to insure that there are no rodent like creatures near the actual “homestead” which area contains about 2 acres. Naturally, given that the entire property is backed by acres of woods and we have trees everywhere, the squirrels run amok in smallish “herds” but they really don’t bother me and are kind of fun to watch.
In addition to the squirrels I have actually given a “pass”” to ONE groundhog, whom I have nicknamed “Blondie” because his hair or whatever it’s called is really light. Blondie goes about his day seemingly always alone and he is also kind of fun to watch. Well, now, Blondie has gone “off the reservation” and has evidently been fooling me all along.
A few weeks ago my dear husband advised me that he had to set traps to eradicate what he deemed to be too many groundhogs in and around the homestead area; claiming that they were destructive and that they just had to go. I questioned his position because I had only ever seen Blondie running around alone and had never seen any other groundhogs.
WELL, upon further inspection it appears that Blondie has been abusing my good nature and has in fact been systematically moving his entire family onto the property without my knowledge or permission!!
The family unit which may have started out with only Blondie and his significant other has grown substantially and now includes not only Blondie, his “wife” and “offspring”, but evidently the in-laws with their progeny have decided to take up residence as well. These critters are none too shy and have been blatently and systematically overtaking a 1/2 acre parcel, making it their own and enjoying life to the fullest!!
These critters have never pulled a permit to enable the construction of their homesite, they don’t pay me any taxes or rent and they have not requested, nor been granted, an easement into my husband’s vegetable garden. I think I have a good claim.
Before I prepare the necessary documentation to prove my claim, my husband is going to attempt to remove all of the illegal occupants by using humane traps and relocating them. As of today’s count, he has removed 4 of the interlopers and he estimates there are least 8 more that simply have to go. I can only hope that he leaves my little “Blondie” alone, but I fear that at this point he is not going to be as generous with Blondie as he might have been if Blondie had not tried to pull a fast one on us.
About the Author
Charlene Perry has earned the designation of Certified Land Title Professional (CLTP) and received numerous awards for her service including the Fannie Mae National Settlement Services Award (2002). She is on the Board of Directors of the Maryland Land Title Association (MLTA) as well as being active in both the MLTA and the Harford County Association of Realtors. She volunteers her time conducting seminars and teaching title agents and Realtors®.