Ray v. Beacon Hudson Mountain Corp.


Plaintiff purchased a remote cottage in Fishkill, NY.  Defendant, a developer, purchased the home along with those surrounding for a development.  Defendant corporation later defaulted.  At the time of default, Plaintiff seller had sold passed the property to his children who used it for summer vacations.  When defendant purchased the homes, the Plaintiff decedents asserted a claim of adverse possession.  The  Plaintiff decedents claim to have been using the property for about one month out of every year.   Defendants assumed the cabin was abandoned in the forest and therefore sought to purchase/seize the land.


Whether “seasonal possession” and “seasonal use” of a property constitutes continuity of possession.


No, reversed against Plaintiffs.


“When title by adverse possession is sought to be established, the requirement of continuity of possession is generally held to be satisfied as regards activities which are seasonal in character by use of the land commensurate with and appropriate to existing seasonal uses, needs, requirements, and limitations, having regard for the location and adaptability of the land to such uses.”


Seasonal use of the property must sufficiently give the owner of the property (the Plaintiff’s father) that the property is theirs.  In the instant case, the Plaintiff’s visited the property not seasonally, but erratically for about a month each year.  Erratic use of the cottage, including in “off-season” months is not sufficient to put the owner of the property on notice that Plaintiff’s now maintain title of the premises.

Even though Plaintiffs had a telephone listing and were registered to vote in the region, their adverse possession claim is still insufficient because their presence was limited and sporadic.  “The requirement that the possession be continuous for a period of time exists so that the true owner can have an opportunity to discover that a hostile claim is asserted.”  Because Plaintiffs visited the land so infrequently, Defendants would not have an opportunity to “confront and eject” Plaintiffs.

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