Adverse possession available against city when land was not being used for a public purpose

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has joined the modern movement to allow adverse possession claims against cities when the city’s land being occupied was not being devoted to a public purpose during the period was it was occupied by the adverse possessor. City of Philadephia v. Galdo, 217 A.3d 811 (Pa. 2019).


The court noted that “it is well-established that a claim of title by adverse possession does not lie against Commonwealth property.” It explained: “The basis for this rule of immunity emanates from the doctrine nullum tempus occurrit regi, meaning "[t]ime does not run against the king," which has its roots in the prerogative of the Crown.” But this doctrine does not extend to subdivisions of the Commonwealth like counties or municipal governments when land is not being used for a public purpose. Galdo holds that leaving land vacant for potential future use does not count as such a public purpose for adverse possession purposes.