This blog features case law related to real estate, land use, zoning, and municipal law in Pennsylvania

Tag: public use

Municipalities Not Immune from Adverse Possession Claims

In a property dispute between the City of Philadelphia and Francis Galdo, the Commonwealth Court ruled that the City of Philadelphia is not immune from claims of adverse possession where it is simply holding property for possible future sale.  This dispute centers upon a small, rectangular piece of undeveloped land that was condemned by the City in 1974 on behalf of the Commonwealth in relation to the construction of Interstate 95. Galdo purchased a property across the street from the property in 1989 and began using it for storage, parties, and parking.  Galdo made a variety of improvements to the property over the years: pouring concrete slabs, installing and (later) removing a fence, installing storage trailers, building a fire pit/brick barbeque and pavilion, and creating a volleyball court, horseshoe pits, and a treehouse.  In 2014 the City filed an ejectment action against Galdo, who responded with a counterclaim to quiet title, claiming ownership by adverse possession.  The trial court ruled in favor of the City, concluding Galdo could not claim title to the Property because the City had condemned the property at the behest of the Commonwealth, and because claims of adverse possession cannot lie against the Commonwealth or its agents, and the Property was devoted to public use.

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Period of Public Ownership Tolls, Rather Than Restarts, Adverse Possession Period

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.

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