No. 203 March Term, 1978, Appeal from the Order of the Superior Court at No. 81 April Term, 1978, Affirming Per Curiam the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County at No. 1975-1395, as Per Order of the Supreme Court Allowing Said Appeal at No. 1675 Allocatur Docket.
Edward F. Peduzzi, Myers, Taylor & Peduzzi, Ebensburg, for appellant.
Blair V. Pawlowski, Pawlowski & Tulowitzki, David J. Tulowitzki, Ebensburg, for appellee.
Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ.
In 1936, Joseph Roman, Sr. acquired title to a parcel of land in Bar Township, Cambria County, fronting on David Street. In 1949, appellee Michael Roman (Joseph Roman, Sr.'s brother) and Joseph Roman, Jr. (Joseph Roman, Sr.'s son) began building a woodwork shop on the rear portion of the land. In 1950, before the shop was completed, Joseph Roman, Jr. moved to Ohio where he established his permanent residence; Michael Roman completed construction of the shop and has continuously operated it (rent free) from 1950 to the present. Since 1950, Michael Roman has added two extensions to the shop.
Between 1950 and 1959, Joseph Roman, Sr. built a garage and gardened on the balance of the property. In 1959, Joseph Roman, Sr. moved to Ohio and left his sister-in-law in charge of the property. Joseph Roman, Sr. died in 1967 and as a result, title to the property was transferred to his widow, appellant Anna Roman. Appellee Michael Roman made no claim on any portion of the property at that time.
During his lifetime, Joseph Roman, Sr. paid all of the real estate taxes on the entire tract of land. When he died, his widow, appellant Anna Roman, requested that Michael Roman pay these taxes. Michael Roman agreed and from 1968 until 1973, he (Michael Roman) submitted money for the payment of taxes to Joseph Roman, Sr.'s former sister-in-law (the person who Joseph Roman, Sr. placed in charge of the property in 1959).
On November 5, 1973, Anna Roman wrote a letter to Michael Roman wherein she offered to assume responsibility for the payment of taxes provided that he would rent the aforementioned garage from her for $100.00 a year; the letter stated that if this arrangement was not satisfactory, he should move his shop from the property. On January 22, 1974, Michael Roman notified Anna Roman that he was claiming title to a portion of the entire tract through adverse possession. On February 28, 1975, appellees Michael and Mary Roman (husband and wife), attempting to perfect title in the aforementioned portion of land (which consisted of the woodwork shop, land surrounding the shop, and a sidewalk leading from the shop to David Street) conveyed said land to themselves.
Anna Roman filed a complaint in equity against Michael and Mary Roman to have this conveyance of land set aside. Following a hearing before a chancellor in the Cambria County Court of Common Pleas, a decree was entered in favor of Michael and Mary Roman, affirming their title to the aforementioned portion of land. A court en banc dismissed exceptions and the Superior Court affirmed the lower court. This appeal followed.
"It has long been the rule of this Commonwealth that one who claims title by adverse possession must prove that he had actual, continuous, exclusive, visible, notorious, distinct, and hostile possession of the land for twenty one years . . . ." Conneaut Lake ...