Saturday, December 1, 2012

Howard v. Kunto case brief

Howard v. Kunto
Property Law Case Brief

Subject:  Adverse Possession.

Case Overview:
Howard (Plaintiff) sued Kunto (Defendant) to gain possession of land that Howard technically owned but which Kunto and his predecessors had long occupied.

Case Facts:
-An error from long ago had confused the deeds of several homes, among which were those now owned by Howard and Kunto.
-As a result, Howard actually held title to land occupied by a third party, Moyers.
-Moyers, in turn, held title to the land occupied by Kuntos.
-Howard, having discovered the situation, shrewdly agreed to exchange titles with Moyers.
-Moyers thus obtained the deed to the land he occupied in practice, and Howard obtained the deed to Kuntos’s land.
-When Howard sued, Kuntos had only occupied the land for a year, having purchased the property as a summer home only recently.


(1) Is a claim of adverse possession defeated simply because the adverse possessor has restricted his use of the land to summer occupancy?
(2) May a person in Kuntos’s position tack the occupancy of previous owners for purposes of meeting the requirements for adverse possession?

(1) No, a claim of adverse possession is not defeated by seasonal occupancy.
(2) Yes, a person in Kuntos’s position may tack the occupancy of previous owners.

Analysis and Rules:
Although adverse possession requires uninterrupted occupancy of the disputed land, such occupancy need not consist of a continuous physical presence on the land. Rather, the use of the land need only be consistent with the conduct of owners who hold property of a similar nature.
The law has long held that tacking should be permitted only when there is “privity” between the adverse possessor and previous occupants of the land. Although the implications of such privity can be debated, the apparent legal intent of this requirement is to raise the status of the adverse possessor above that of a mere squatter. Since Kuntos’s predecessors occupied the land for more than ten years, the privity requirement is met for the purposes of this case.

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