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Michigan Court of Appeals Refuses to Expand Claim of Acquiescence

Matt Worley, Esq.

Acquiescence is a type of adverse possession.  In essence, it allows an individual to gain title to property after treating the property as their own for at least 15 years.  The common scenario involves fences that are placed on what the parties believe is the true property line but, in reality, is not the line.  If the fence is treated by the property owners as the true boundary between the properties for 15 or more years, there may be a claim for acquiescence.

Recently, a Michigan Court of Appeals decision refused to extend the doctrine of acquiescence to property that is within the platted right-of-way (roadway) in the Village of Beulah.  In that case, the Village introduced plans to create new angled parking, a new sidewalk, and a streetscape in the strip of property adjacent to the roadway.

Plaintiffs then filed suit claiming title to the strips of land that were to be developed by the Village.  The Plaintiffs alleged that they gained title to the property through acquiescence because the previous owners of their property had installed a rock wall and railroad ties in the strips of land bordering the road way.  These strips of land were in the platted right-of-way. 

The Court ruled in favor of the Village, holding that under MCL §247.190 no encroachments on a “public highway” give the encroaching persons any title or right to the land.  Plaintiffs argued that this statute did not apply because a village roadway is not a “public highway.”  The court disagreed, however, and held that the platted right-of-way for the village roads do fall under the court’s broad definition of a public highway.  The court ruled that not every part of the right-of-way must be developed into a roadway in order to constitute the public highway.

While this is a victory for the Village of Beulah, it is likely that the plaintiff will seek review by the Michigan Supreme Court. 

If you have questions about acquiescence or other real estate law concerns, contact the attorneys at Fausone Bohn, LLP.  Our experienced team can provide you with the sound legal counsel you need.  You can reach us at 248/380.0000 or online at www.fb-firm.com

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