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Penn Cent. Transp. Co. v. Martin - 170 Ind. App. 519, 353 N.E.2d 474 (1976)

Rule:

In order to acquire title by adverse possession, it is not necessary that possession be under color of title. It is sufficient if the adverse claimant occupies the land under a claim of right. Thus, title by adverse possession can be established by entering upon and occupying land with the intent to hold the land as one's own. The absence of color of title affects only the extent of possession. Title under a claim of right can only be asserted against the land actually occupied by the adverse claimant.

Facts:

The adverse possessors, plaintiffs-appellees Glenn Martin and his daughter erroneously believed that they owned property of defendant-appellant Penn Central Transportation Company. The adverse possessors erected a shed on the property and took care of the property. After the adverse possessors discovered that the land was not theirs, they filed an action to quiet title to the land, and the trial court entered judgment in their favor. Claiming it was the record owner, Penn Central sought review. The adverse possessors admitted that they did not pay the real estate taxes on the land, but contended that they paid taxes on the improvements and that this was sufficient to satisfy the statute in order to establish title by adverse possession. Penn Central also contended there was insufficient evidence to indicate possession of the land under claim of ownership.

Issue:

In a quiet title action, were the adverse claimants able to show sufficient evidence in order to establish adverse possession of the property?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

Affirming, the Court of Appeals of Indiana held that there was sufficient evidence to show that the adverse possessors paid the taxes on the portion of real estate to which they had record title and for the improvements which were partially located on the adjoining land, and was sufficient to satisfy the requirement of Ind. Code § 32-1-20-1 (1971). The Court also found that the evidence established that the adverse possessors maintained the land and took possession under a claim of ownership. A claim of right may be inferred in favor of the party in possession if such party places permanent structures upon the land of another and thereafter uses such land and structure in the same manner that an owner ordinarily uses his land. The adverse possessors alone occupied the addition to the house, and used, improved and maintained the garage and driveway, in addition to mowing the yard surrounding the property. 

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