The doctrine of adverse possession is based on the 10-year statute of limitations for recovery of real property in Iowa Code § 614.1(5). One claiming title by adverse possession must establish hostile, actual, open, exclusive and continuous possession, under a claim of right or color of title, for at least ten years, by clear and positive proof. Because the law presumes possession under regular title, the doctrine is strictly construed.
The property, which plaintiff claimed to have acquired by adverse possession was the south 60 feet of defendants' lot. She claimed open, exclusive, hostile, adverse, and actual possession under a claim of right. She installed a propane tank on the parcel and used part of it as a driveway. The trial court held in part that she did not establish her possession was under a claim of right. However, it ordered defendants to "do equity" by deeding to her the strip of land her driveway was on and to pay the costs of moving the propane tank to her lot. On appeal, the court affirmed the judgment on the appeal and dismissed the cross-appeal.
Did plaintiff fail to prove a good faith claim of right?
The court held that good faith was essential to adverse possession under a claim of right. Plaintiff failed to prove a good faith claim of right. She knew her lot did not include the cornfield north of it. At the time she entered possession of the disputed land, plaintiff knew she had no legal right to do so. Possession for the statutory period could not be bootstrapped into a basis for claiming a right to possession. Defendants' cross-appeal was untimely and compliance with he time limitations for taking a cross-appeal was mandatory and jurisdictional.