Wood v. Taylor

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Property Law
  • Date Filed: 12-02-2020
  • Case #: A166593
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Aoyagi, J., for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; & Tookey, j.
  • Full Text Opinion

"A person may acquire fee simple title to real property by adverse possession only if: the person entering into possession had the honest belief that the person was the actual owner of the property." ORS 105.620(1)(b).

Wood brought an action against Taylor to establish adverse possession over a contested parcel, which Wood used without dispute from 1991 until 2014 when Taylor fenced off the parcel from Wood. The trial court found that Wood’s “honest belief” was not objectively reasonable and dismissed the case. On appeal, Wood assigned error to the court’s finding and argued that their “honest belief” was reasonable because they understood a chain-link fence to mark their property boundary. Taylor argued that Wood’s belief was not reasonable because Wood took no additional steps to verify the boundary. To prevail on a claim of adverse possession, plaintiffs must show “actual, open, notorious, exclusive, hostile, and continuous possession of the property for a period of 10 years” and an “honest belief” that they were the actual owners. ORS 105.620(1). “Honest belief” requires the belief of ownership have an “objective basis” and be “reasonable under the particular circumstances.” ORS 105.620(1)(b). The Court found that Wood’s belief that the contested parcel was within their property was reasonable because of the tendency of fences to mark boundaries. Therefore, the Court held that Wood’s adverse possession claim passes the reasonableness requirement. Reversed and remanded.   

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