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Eric Sherman Eric Sherman, partner at Pryor Cashman

As law students learn during their first-year course on property rights, there is a centuries-old common law doctrine called “adverse possession,” under which a person may actually acquire legal title to another person’s property by, among other things, openly occupying the property unchallenged over an extended period of time.  While this archaic legal doctrine continues to exist in some form in virtually every state, in urban centers like New York City—where every inch matters and property rights are meticulously protected—property owners have long discounted the threat of a claim of adverse possession.

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