Roger Bernhardt, Professor at Golden Gate University School of Law, discusses the Martin case. Neighbor conflicts often arise out of the most innocuous issues but can mushroom into the most acrimonious disputes. This case involves a fence that is close to the recorded boundary, but acquiescence does not equal an agreement to change the recorded line. This case confirms that courts will look for ways to affirm recorded boundary lines before finding adverse possession, prescriptive easements, or other non-recorded interests in land.
Adverse possession in California is akin to taking property that does not belong to you. The most difficult element for the adverse claimant is to show that he or she paid the property taxes for the subject property. In Aguayo v. Amaro, the California Court of Appeals used the old school defense of unclean hands (an equitable doctrine that prevents a wrongdoer from benefitting) to bar adverse possession where the claimant recorded a fraudulent deed to divert property tax bills away from the true owner.
Taking property that does not belong to you is rarely an act full of goodness and light. If future opinions expand Aguayo to other wrongful conduct, then it might predict the functional end of adverse possession in California.