The Fourth Department determined the six-year statute of limitations did not apply to an owner in possession of land who seeks to have an apparent encumbrance discharged from the record. Supreme Court erred when it determined a six-year statute began to run when a tax deed erroneously purported to transfer the property:
“It is well settled that an owner in possession has a right to invoke the aid of a court of equity at any time while he is so the owner and in possession, to have an apparent, though in fact not a real incumbrance discharged from the record and such right is never barred by the [s]tatute of [l]imitations. It is a continuing right which exists as long as there is an occasion for its exercise” … . Indeed, “[a] [s]tatute of [l]imitations is one of repose designed to put an end to stale claims and was never intended to compel resort to legal remedies by one who is in complete enjoyment of all he claims . . . The logic of such a view is inescapably correct, for otherwise, the recording of the deed resulting from such a proceeding would transform the owner's absolute title in fee simple into a right of action only, the exercise of which is subject to time limitation” … .
We conclude that, inasmuch as plaintiff and his predecessors in interest have always held title and have been in continuous possession of the disputed property, the tax deed to defendants' predecessor in interest was void with respect to the disputed property because the County of Onondaga could not convey an interest in land that it did not have … . Indeed, “[a] purchaser who fails to use due diligence in examining the title is chargeable, as a matter of law, with notice of the facts which a proper inquiry would have disclosed” … . Here, due diligence on the part of defendants would have disclosed the error in the 1959 transfer of the disputed property. Crain v Mannise, 2015 NY Slip Op 01109, 4th Dept 2-6-15