East 13th St. Homesteaders’ Coalition v. Lower East Side Coalition Hous. Dev.


Plaintiffs are a group of occupants of an apartment building who were being evicted by the city so that the city could build a low-income, subsidized housing unit.  Plaintiffs claim to have owned the building for ten years.  There was “documentary and photographic evidence that the City sealed the buildings numerous times during the claimed period, and that the occupants had to break these seals, sometimes with a sledgehammer, to reenter the buildings.”  Plaintiffs claim there was a clear claim of successive possession for the ten years, for which they are granted ownership of the property.


“Whether the petitioners should be granted a preliminary injunction barring their eviction pending trial on the issue of whether legal title to the property passed to them through adverse possession.”


Appeal reversed, and the motion for a preliminary injunction denied.


Because it (injunction) is a drastic remedy, injunctive relief is reserved for those cases presenting a clear legal right thereto.”


“The record does not reveal that such successive possession was continued by an unbroken chain of privity such that it could be tacked for adverse possession purposes.”  The court argued that there was not evidence that the successive occupants were in privity with prior occupants, nor is there evidence of an intentional transfer of title.  Moreover, there were units which were vacant for some time, in which the prior and subsequent owners did not have contact at all.


“In determining whether the common-law requirement of `continuity of possession’ has been met in an adverse possession claim to an estate in land, a court should consider not only the adverse possessor’s physical presence on the land but also the claimant’s other acts of dominion and control over the premises that would appropriately be undertaken by owners of properties of similar character, condition and location.”

Plaintiffs in this case made improvements to the dwelling and had intermittent occupation.  Under former precedent, that is enough.

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