Law School Case Brief
Howard v. Kunto - 3 Wash. App. 393, 477 P.2d 210 (1970)
The requisite possession requires such possession and dominion as ordinarily marks the conduct of owners in general, in holding, managing, and caring for property of like nature and condition.
The house in which defendant Kunto et al. resided stood on one lot while, in fact, their property deed described the adjacent lot. This discrepancy in the description of deeds vis-a-vis where the occupied houses stood affected several residences in the neighborhood, an area that was only used seasonally, and had existed for several years. Plaintiff Howard filed an action to quiet title for the property. At the time quiet title action was commenced, defendants had occupied the disputed property for less than a year. The lower court found defendants unable to establish a claim for adverse possession because they failed to prove continuity of possession to permit tacking of their possession to their predecessors'. Defendants appealed.
Was tacking of possession properly satisfied to prove adverse possession?
The court reversed quieting of title in plaintiffs' favor and entered a decree which quieted title in defendants' favor because defendants were able to establish continuity of possession for purposes of a claim to title based on adverse possession. The Court concluded that a 10-year summer occupancy did not destroy continuity of possession for purposes of adverse possession because the land was regularly used during the time it was capable of use, and defendants had made continued improvements on the land. As a result, the Court found tacking permitted. The Court determined the privity requirement for tacking was satisfied because defendants' claim of right as the last of successive purchasers who received title under the mistaken belief they acquired a contiguous track was sufficiently above that of a trespasser.
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