Law School Case Brief
Krona v. Brett - 72 Wash. 2d 535, 433 P.2d 858 (1967)
To constitute adverse possession, there must be actual possession that is uninterrupted, open and notorious, hostile and exclusive, and under a claim of right made in good faith for the statutory period. The nature of possession and attendant acts necessary to constitute adverse use as to a residential parcel or property are deemed sufficient if a person pleading the statute takes and maintains such possession and exercises such open dominion as ordinarily marks the conduct of owners in general, in holding, managing, and caring for property of like nature and condition. In other words, in determining whether the use and occupation of claimed lands has been sufficient to support title based on adverse possession, the character of the land should be considered. The necessary use and occupancy need only be of the character that a true owner would assert in view of its nature and location.
Plaintiff property owners brought an action against defendant neighbor to quiet title by adverse possession under the 10-year statute, Wash. Rev. Code § 7.28.010, to a strip of land located between the parties' dwellings. A fence was in existence when both parties purchased their property, and both parties used and occupied their property up to the fence, but never beyond it. The neighbor constructed a new fence three feet from the original fence when she discovered the true property line 27 years after she purchased her property. The Superior Court of Pierce County (Washington) dismissed plaintiffs' action on the ground that they failed to sustain their burden of proof to show sufficient acts constituting adverse possession. Plaintiffs appealed.
Were there were sufficient acts of adverse possession by plaintiffs to constitute adverse possession?
The court reversed the judgment and remanded the cause for entry of a judgment to quiet title in plaintiffs. The court found that plaintiffs' action clearly constituted such possession and open dominion as ordinarily marked the conduct of owners in holding, managing, and caring for property of like nature and condition. Plaintiffs mowed the lawn up to the original fence line, they constructed a brick patio on the disputed strip, and they maintained a flowerbed on the disputed strip. The court found that plaintiffs used and occupied the disputed strip in an open and notorious manner and that plaintiffs' acts were unequivocal and consistent with their claim to the disputed strip.
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