What is the Law in New Jersey about adverse possession
Current as of December 5, 2008 the New Jersey Law Revision Commission drafted their final report relating to adverse possession.
This report recommends a new statue to clarify the law concerning adverse possession and promote the stability of land titles in light of the New Jersey Supreme Court's decision in J & M Land Co. v. First Union Bank, 166 N.J. 493 (2001). That case held that under the current statutes governing adverse possession, 2A:14-30 and 2A:14-31, a possessor is vested with title to real estate after 30 years' actual possession of the real estate, unless the property consists of woodlands or uncultivated tracts. Title vests to the possessor of woodlands or uncultivated tracts after 60 years' possession. Two other statutes seem to conflict with 2A:14-30 and 2A:14-31. Section 2A:14-6 provides that every person with any right or title of entry into real estate must make such entry within 20 years after the right or title accrues; under 2A:14-7, every action for real estate must be commenced within 20 years after the cause of action accrues. The Supreme Court noted that the Legislature might choose to clarify the matter by enacting appropriate legislation. 166 N.J. at 521.
Another statute, 2A:14-8, appears to establish a 20-year statute of limitation for State’s claims to real estate. This statute can be read to make adverse possession easier to establish against the State than against a private party. This reading conflicts with the common law principle that, in general, adverse possession is not available against the State. See Devins v. Borough of Bogota, 124 N.J. 570, 575-579 (1991)
The Commission addresses these problems by recommending the repeal of 2A:14-30, 2A:14-31, 2A:14-6, 2A:14-7 and 2A:14-8 and enacting a statute that provides that title may be acquired by an adverse possessor after 20 years in most cases. Under this statute, once the applicable time period has expired, the record owner is not merely barred from attempting to recover possession; his title is extinguished and title is vested in the adverse possessor. This provision would bring New Jersey's statutory scheme in line with that of most other states, in which the relevant time period for adverse possession is 20 years or less.
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