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    hughpuppies's Avatar
    hughpuppies Posts: 2, Reputation: 1
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    #1

    Aug 2, 2014, 07:13 PM
    Alley behind houses
    There was an old alley long time ago behind a house I live in. It was abandoned by the Borough. A house was built on part of it. The other part is now grass with large trees growing. The part of the alley where the house is not on is 15 feet wide by 100 feet long. People who have been living in the area long enough remember there was an alley there. One even showed me an old picture of the alley.

    One guy who lives behind me on the next street up says it is his property. He says he had it surveyed and it is his property.

    The reason why I am writing this is because 4 house 1 up to the left of where I live and 3 behind me when it rains all their water comes down and floods my whole back yard with 2-4 inches of rain water from their yards and down spouts. I am trying to fix the land so it doesn't flood my yard, but each time I do the guy screams, yells, swears saying it is his property and I better stay off it if I know what is good for me.

    So I went to the county court house in the county I live in, lucky for me it is in the same town I live in. I went to the register and recorder and to the assessors office there is no record of any of the 6 houses connected to the alley taking claim of the alley and paying taxes on it. They look at all 6 property deeds to see if any one claimed the parcel and was added to their deed as another parcel and not one of them claimed it and are paying taxes on it.

    I know he can't claim adverse possession on it since it was owned by the Borough and law states you can not claim adverse possession on land that was owned by the borough after it was abandoned, the law of Pennsylvania states this. He thinks since he has been mowing it for a few years that he owns it. Pennsylvania states that you must maintain it for 21 straight years by yourself and not one else touching it.

    3 Questions I have,

    1.Since no one owns it how does one go about claiming it and start paying taxes on it?
    2. Does this guy have any legal right to say he owns the land when it is not on his deed nor is there any record of him claiming it or paying taxes on it.
    3. Shouldn't it be since it was an a abandoned alley shouldn't everyone get an equal piece of it if they want it? Out of the 6 houses 5 of them border the alley in one way or another, so shouldn't all 5 get an equal share of the alley that is if they want it?
    joypulv's Avatar
    joypulv Posts: 21,593, Reputation: 2941
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    #2

    Aug 2, 2014, 07:40 PM
    Gov't land is rarely actually abandoned. What you need to do is hold a meeting with all your other neighbors to talk to the town about acquiring it, whether for $1 or just getting it given to all of you. I'm surprised that there are no deeds showing right-of-ways for you and your neighbors.
    Many towns have zoning laws about drainage when houses are close to each other, so talk to zoning too.
    AK lawyer's Avatar
    AK lawyer Posts: 12,592, Reputation: 977
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    #3

    Aug 3, 2014, 06:15 AM
    One guy who lives behind me on the next street up says it is his property. He says he had it surveyed and it is his property.
    If he is telling the truth that he had it surveyed, the surveyor might (or might not) have made a mistake. I would find out whether the surveyer was aware of the alley having been there. If so, they surveyer might have found out something about it that you don't know.

    1.Since no one owns it how does one go about claiming it and start paying taxes on it?
    As you know, adverse possession doesn't work against the government. You need to ask the Borough to "vacate" the alley. There will be a procedure to do this. Ask them.

    2. Does this guy have any legal right to say he owns the land when it is not on his deed nor is there any record of him claiming it or paying taxes on it.
    No; he doesn't own it even if he had paid the taxes, for the same reason noted above.

    3. Shouldn't it be since it was an a abandoned alley shouldn't everyone get an equal piece of it if they want it? Out of the 6 houses 5 of them border the alley in one way or another, so shouldn't all 5 get an equal share of the alley that is if they want it?
    Probably that is the way a vacation would work. It depends on how it was originally dedicated as an alley. If there was a plat, for example, showing all of your lots subject to a right-of-way for an alley, upon vacation it would go back to each lot owner.
    Fr_Chuck's Avatar
    Fr_Chuck Posts: 81,302, Reputation: 7692
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    #4

    Aug 3, 2014, 06:36 AM
    Land is always owned by someone. The recorders or deed office will show on detailed maps, who owns what. If it was given to from the city, to the local land owners, then some record of this will be on file.

    A deed search and a new survey will show this
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,966, Reputation: 6056
    Computer Expert and Renaissance Man
     
    #5

    Aug 3, 2014, 08:05 AM
    My mother used to work for a real estate office, one of the realtors frequently attended auctions of government land. At one such auction, he bid on and purchased a piece of land approximately 10x100. This piece of land was an alley going between to sets of row houses on opposite streets. It was originally used for garbage collection, but the city decided to pick up from the front. Over the years first, one house then another extended their back yards 5 feet into this strip so the alley was gone. The realtor purchased the property for $100. Then sent letters to the 10 houses (5 on each side), to remove their fences and anything else on the strip or purchase their portion of the strip from him for $250. They all paid (legal extortion) because it was cheaper then moving their fences and shed or whatever. He presented them with deeds to their 5x20 piece.

    The moral of this is that unless you have a legal deed then you don't own the property and can't control it.

    The best solution is, as suggested, get all the neighbors together and go to the town asking that the alley be divided equally among the abutting properties. The town should be willing because they can now collect taxes on it.

    If the neighbor continues to claim the property is his, ask him to produce documentation of his ownership. Tell him you have check with the registrar of deeds and the law on adverse possession and found nothing to support his claim.

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