The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the city had acquired title by adverse possession to a parcel purchased by plaintiff’s predecessors in 1948. The fact that plaintiff had continuously paid taxes on the property did not negate the proof of adverse possession:
In 1948, the plaintiff’s predecessors in interest purchased real property in Brooklyn. For at least 30 years, the subject property, which is in the middle of other lots owned by the defendant, City of New York, has been used by the New York City Department of Sanitation (hereinafter the DSNY) as a truck parking lot. During this time, the DSNY has paved the property, fenced it in, and installed lighting. * * *
Under the law before the 2008 amendments, in order to establish a claim to property by adverse possession, a claimant must prove, inter alia, that possession of the property was: (1) hostile and under a claim of right, (2) actual, (3) open and notorious, (4) exclusive, and (5) continuous for the required period … .
The purpose of the hostility requirement is to provide the title owner notice of the adverse claim through the “unequivocal acts of the usurper”… . A rebuttable presumption of hostility arises from possession accompanied by the usual acts of ownership, and this presumption continues until the possession is shown to be subservient to the title of another … . “Hostility can be inferred simply from the existence of the remaining four elements, thus shifting the burden to the record owner to produce evidence rebutting the presumption of adversity” … .
… We conclude that the mere payment of taxes on the subject property is insufficient to rebut the presumption. Even assuming that knowledge of the true ownership of the property can be imputed to another municipal department in the City, such knowledge is not sufficient to defeat a claim of adverse possession … . Estate of Vertley Clanton v City of New York, 2017 NY Slip Op 06254, Second Dept 8-23-17
REAL PROPERTY (ADVERSE POSSESSION, CITY ACQUIRED TITLE BY ADVERSE POSSESSION, DESPITE PLAINTIFF’S HAVING CONTINUOUSLY PAID THE PROPERTY TAXES (SECOND DEPT))/ADVERSE POSSESSION (CITY ACQUIRED TITLE BY ADVERSE POSSESSION, DESPITE PLAINTIFF’S HAVING CONTINUOUSLY PAID THE PROPERTY TAXES (SECOND DEPT))/MUNICIPAL LAW (ADVERSE POSSESSION, CITY ACQUIRED TITLE BY ADVERSE POSSESSION, DESPITE PLAINTIFF’S HAVING CONTINUOUSLY PAID THE PROPERTY TAXES (SECOND DEPT))