Husain v. California Pacific Bank

Facts: A property owner and their tenants use a portion of a neighbor’s property for access, parking, garbage removal, and as a garden. After more than five years of continuous use of the neighbor’s property it is acquired by a buyer. The buyer prior to acquiring the neighboring property is on notice of the long-standing use of the property by the adjacent property owner and their tenants. The buyer now seeks to revoke the use of the property by the adjacent owner and their tenants.

Claim: The buyer of the neighboring property claims the adjacent owner and their tenants can be barred from using the property since their use of the neighboring property acquired by the buyer was permissive and revocable at any time.

Counterclaim: The owner of the adjacent property whose tenants use portions of the neighboring property claims the buyer may not revoke the right to use the neighboring property as it is a prescriptive easement since the owner and tenants openly, notoriously, and continuously used portions of the neighboring property for more than five years.

Holding: A California appeals court holds the owner of the property occupied by the tenant holds a prescriptive easement over the portion of the neighboring property acquired by the buyer since the owner’s and tenants’ use of the neighboring property was open, notorious, and continuous for a period of more than five years. [Husain v. California Pacific Bank (March 11, 2021)_CA6th_]

Editor’s note – A prescriptive easement gives the right to use another’s property established by using the property for a period exceeding five years without a claim of ownership. Conversely, adverse possession allows a trespasser to take title to an entire parcel of property when the trespasser known to the owner maintains exclusive possession of the property as a trespasser for a period of five years and pays all property taxes. Thus, an adverse possessor may acquire actual title as an owner of a property while the holder of a prescriptive easement may not.

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Title by Claims of Adverse Possession