Possession of Beach Property After Tax Sale


Hi folks! More guidance for those of you who want to know about possession issues for property that does not contain a structure.  In the case of O’Connor v. Rabren, 373 So.2d 302 (Ala. 1979), the O’Connors lost their property at a tax sale in 1972. Mrs. Rabren purchased it, and then obtained a tax deed in 1975.  She filed a quiet title action, and won a default judgment against the O’Connors, who failed to contest the lawsuit. Then the O’Connors sued and claimed they still had redemption rights. The court said they did not, because Mrs. Rabren had adversely possessed the property during the prior three years. The court explained:

“The land was described by Mrs. Rabren and her witnesses as beach-type property with large oak trees on it. Neither of the O’Connors had ever been on the property except William O’Connor, who stated he looked at it one time and that it was sand dunes covered with scrub brush. Mrs. Rabren and her relatives and friends used the land for fishing and camping, especially in the summer. They cleaned garbage from the land on several occasions and put up “no trespassing” signs. They also cleaned out underbrush, and spoke with neighbors on either side of the lots. Mrs. Rabren assessed the land and paid taxes on it since the tax sales.

Considering the nature of the property, we think these are acts of actual, adverse possession.”  373 So.2d at 306