Adverse Possession In Ohio Is Not Applicable to Municipal Property

A survey of Ohio law reveals two exceptions to the general rule that adverse possession is not applicable to municipal property.

One exception was noted by the Ohio Supreme Court in Heddleston v. Hendricks (1895), 52 Ohio St. 460, 40 N.E. 408.

In that case, the Supreme Court held that a property owner of land adjacent to a township road did not acquire ownership of the portion of the road that the adjacent owner had fenced off.

In reaching this conclusion, the Supreme Court limited Church and Evans:

"The general rule is that the statute of limitations does not apply as a bar to the rights of the public, unless expressly named in the statute, for the reason that the same active vigilance cannot be expected of it as is known to characterize that of a private person, always jealous of his rights, and prompt to repel any invasion of them.

But in the cases of City of Cincinnati v. First Presbyterian Church and City of Cincinnati v. Evans, a different rule was applied. But these cases are regarded as exceptional, and confined to municipal corporations in cases where their possession has been disturbed by the erection of large and valuable structures under such circumstances as preclude the idea that the encroachment was simply permissive on the part of the municipality." Heddleston at 465.