In this quiet title action out of the Court of Common Pleas of Jefferson County, the Superior Court was asked whether a temporary period of ownership by a political subdivision restarted, or merely tolled, the 21-year period necessary to assert a claim of adverse possession. In concluding that such ownership merely tolled, rather than restarted, the 21-year period, the Court reversed the order ejecting the adverse possessors from the subject property.
The Weibles and Wellses own adjacent residential properties. The Wellses purchased their property in 1965, and installed landscaping and a driveway on a portion of the property currently owned by the Weibles. The Weibles purchased their property in 1998 from Jefferson and Clearfield Counties, who had been operating a mental health facility on the property for 3 years. The Wellses encroachment onto the Weibles’ property was discovered in 2008, and the Weibles instituted an action in ejectment. The Wellses raised the affirmative defense of adverse possession. The trial court found that because the Weibles had received their property from a political subdivision, the required 21-year period for adverse possession had to run from the date of conveyance from the political subdivisions. As 21 years had not passed from that date, the trial court ordered the Wellses to be ejected from the property. The Wellses appealed.
On appeal, the Superior Court reversed. It found that although the property had been publically used from 1995 through 1998, during which time the Counties would have been immune from adverse possession claims, the statutory period had merely been tolled rather than restarted by the Counties’ ownership. Therefore, the period began to run again once the property returned to private ownership.
Click here to read: Weible v. Wells, 46 WDA 2016 (Pa. Super. Ct. Feb. 27, 2017).