Adverse Possession – Elements of

In order to acquire title by adverse possession, the burden is on one who claims title to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she has been in actual, continuous, exclusive, notorious, and adverse possession under claim of ownership for the statutory period, namely, 10 years. This occupation of the land by another places the true owner on notice that his or her title is in danger without proper action. Rush Creek Land and Live Stock Co. v. Chain, 255 Neb. 347, 586 N.W.2d 284 (1998); Wanha v. Long, 255 Neb. 849, 587 N.W.2d 531 (1998); F & J Enterprises, Inc. v. DeMontigny, 6 Neb.App. 259, 573 N.W.2d 153 (1997); Kraft v. Mettenbrink, 5 Neb.App. 344, 559 N.W.2d 503 (1997); Gustin v. Scheele, 250 Neb. 269, 549 N.W.2d 135 (1996); Kelley v. Long, 3 Neb. App. 467, 529 N.W. 2d 72 (1995); Dugan v. Jensen, 244 Neb. 937, 510 N.W.2d 313 (1994); Thornburg v. Haecker, 243 Neb, 693, 502 N.W.2d 434 (1993); Nennemann v. Rebuck, 242 Neb. 604, 496 N.W.2d 467 (1993); Hardt v. Eskam, 218 Neb. 81, 352 N.W. 2d 583 (1984); Schaneman v. Wright, 238 Neb. 309, 470 N.W.2d 566 (1991); State Nat. Bank & Trust v. Jacobsen, 218 Neb. 682, 358 N.W.2d 743 (1984); Pettis v. Lozier, 217 Neb. 191, 349 N.W.2d 372 (1984); Berglund v. Sisler, 210 Neb. 258, 313 N.W.2d 679 (1981); Pettis v. Lozier, 205 Neb. 802, 290 N.W.2d 215 (1980); Purdum v. Sherman, 163 Neb. 889, 81 N.W.2d 331 (1957); Vrana v. Stuart, 169 Neb. 430, 99 N.W.2d 770 (1959).

“It is the nature of the hostile possession that constitutes the warning, not the intent of the claimant when he takes possession. When, therefore, a claimant occupies the land of another by actual, open, exclusive, and continuous possession, the owner is placed on notice that his ownership is endangered and unless he takes proper action within 10 years to protect himself, he is barred from action thereafter and the title of the claimant is complete.” Nennemann v. Rebuck, 242 Neb. 604, 496 N.W.2d 467 (1993); Hadley v. Ideus, 220 Neb. 878, 881-882, 374 N.W.2d 231, 234 (1985); Purdum v. Sherman, 163 Neb. 889, 81 N.W.2d 331 (1957).  See also Weiss v. Meyer, 208 Neb. 429, 303 N.W.2d 765 (1981); Rentschler v. Walnofer, 188 Neb. 351, 196 N.W.2d 921 (1967); Whaley v. Mingus, 188 Neb. 351, 196 N.W.2d 516 (1972); Cunningham v. Stice, 181 Neb. 299, 147 N.W.2d 921 (1967); Converse v. Kenyon, 178 Neb. 151, 132 N.W.2d 334 (1965). 

Claim of right and claim of ownership may both be defined as “hostile” for purposes of showing a claim of ownership by adverse possession. Pettis v. Lozier, 205 Neb. 802, 290 N.W.2d 215 (1980); Barnes v. Milligan, 200 Neb. 450, 264 N.W.2d 186 (1978).

Ordinarily, intent with which occupier possesses land can best be determined by his acts and the nature of his possession. F & J Enterprises, Inc. v. DeMontigny, 6 Neb.App. 259, 573 N.W.2d 153 (1997).

Title cannot be acquired without simultaneous and continuous existence of each element of adverse possession for the required period. Rush Creek Land and Live Stock Co. v. Chain, 255 Neb. 347, 586 N.W.2d 284 (1998); Thornburg v. Haecker, 243 Neb. 693, 502 N.W.2d 434 (1980).

A tenant may adversely possess real property in the name of his landlord. Rush Creek Land and Live Stock Co. v. Chain, 255 Neb. 347, 586 N.W.2d 284 (1998); Thornburg v. Haecker, 243 Neb. 693, 502 N.W.2d 434 (1980).

An adverse possessor can succeed in his claim even if he does not know he is occupying land not included in his deed or chain of title. Kraft v. Mettenbrink, 5 Neb.App. 344, 559 N.W.2d 503 (1997).