pleased that the Puccis had continued to maintain the family homestead. No one ever attempted to assert a right to participate in the management of the house or demanded that the Puccis pay rent to the other devisees in return for their use of the house.
Filomena Scalese's life estate interest in the dwelling terminated with her death on May 17, 1972. James and Ernest Scalese, two of the eleven children who survived their father, predeceased Filomena. No party who appeared at the hearing presented any evidence on the question of whether or not either of these two children had exercised the power of appointment that Nicola's Last Will and Testament had granted to them. Five of the nine children who survived Filomena have asserted claims in this Court for some portion or all of the proceeds from the Commercial Union insurance policy. The insurer filed this interpleader action for the sole purpose of avoiding multiple liability. Commercial Union has admitted that it owes some person or persons the full amount of the actual cash value of the damaged portion of the dwelling or the policy coverage limit of $ 40,000, whichever figure is lower. Thus, we need decide only two questions in this interpleader action. First, who among the devisees has a legal right to receive some portion of the proceeds from the insurance policy? Second, what is the actual cash value of the damaged portion of the house?
B. Adverse Possession
The Puccis allege that they acquired sole ownership of the property at issue through adverse possession. They therefore argue that they alone are legally entitled to benefit from the insurance policy because they alone have an insurable interest in the property.
"(O)ne 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. Each of these elements must exist, otherwise the possession will not confer title." Conneaut Lake Park, Inc. v. Klingensmith, 362 Pa. 592, 594-95, 66 A.2d 828, 829 (1949) (citations omitted). See Burns v. Mitchell, 252 Pa.Super. 257, 262, 381 A.2d 487, 489 (1977). Cf. 42 Pa.Cons.Stat.Ann. § 5530(a) (West Pamphlet 1981) (statute of limitations). Mr. and Mrs. Pucci undeniably had actual, continuous, exclusive, visible, notorious and distinct possession of the dwelling at 249 Merchant Street for a period in excess of twenty-one years. The critical issue, however, is whether or not the Puccis' possession was hostile or adverse to the interests of the other devisees in the property. At the time of Nicola Scalese's death, the house was occupied by Filomena Scalese, Victor Scalese, and Peter and Carmella Pucci. After Filomena Scalese moved out in 1936, James Scalese asked the Puccis to continue to live in the house and to take care of it. The other devisees likewise felt that the Puccis should maintain the family homestead. Although the evidence conclusively established that Carmella Pucci's siblings wanted her to continue to reside in the house, we heard no evidence that indicated that any of the devisees intended to convey his or her interests in the property to the Puccis.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has held that "(w)here the possession, at its inception, is permissive the statute will not begin to run against the real owner until there has been some subsequent act of disseizin or open disavowal of the true owner's title, .... The burden is upon the person claiming by adverse possession to establish when his adverse holding began." Moser v. Granquist, 362 Pa. 302, 304-05, 66 A.2d 267, 268 (1949) (citations omitted) (emphasis in original). See Roman v. Roman, 485 Pa. 196, 401 A.2d 361 (1979). Cf. Gee v. CBS, Inc., 471 F. Supp. 600, 655 (E.D.Pa.), aff'd mem., 612 F.2d 572 (3d Cir. 1979) ("hostility" means that true owner has not consented to the possession). In Hanley v. Stewart, 155 Pa.Super. 535, 39 A.2d 323 (1944), the Superior Court of Pennsylvania applied this legal principle to facts that were very similar to the facts that now confront us. The plaintiff in the Hanley case filed a bill in equity against her cotenants asking for a partition of a farm. One of the defendants opposed the bill on the ground, inter alia, that her predecessor in interest had acquired title to the entire property through adverse possession. The predecessor in interest had been the unmarried daughter of Cornelius Sullivan. When Mr. Sullivan died intestate, his four children inherited the farm as tenants in common. The unmarried daughter, who was the only offspring living on the farm at the time of the father's death, made her permanent residence on the farm. She collected the receipts from the crops, paid the taxes, made improvements and had exclusive possession of the farm for more than twenty-one years following her father's death.
The Superior Court observed that "(an) unmarried daughter, living with her parents, is frequently allowed by her coheirs, after their father's or their parents', death, to remain in possession of the homestead, and receive the crops and profits, just as in the lifetime of their parents, without thereby surrendering or being deprived of their interest in the land...." 155 Pa.Super. at 543, 39 A.2d at 327. Therefore, the court concluded that
adverse possession, if by a coheir or cotenant, does not begin to run until there is an actual ouster of the other heirs, or some clear, unequivocal act or declaration by the coheir or cotenant in possession, brought home to the remaining coheirs and cotenants, showing a claim of exclusive ownership of the whole, amounting to, or the equivalent of, an ouster of the other coheirs and cotenants.
Id. at 545, 39 A.2d at 328. After failing to find in the facts any unequivocal declaration of exclusive ownership of the whole, the court held that the unmarried daughter had not acquired title to the entire farm by adverse possession.
Likewise, we find no indication in the evidence that the Puccis ever had made an effort to oust the other devisees or ever had communicated to them a claim of exclusive ownership of the family homestead. In fact, Mrs. Pucci indicated at the hearing that she never had any intention of ousting the other devisees. On cross-examination, she testified as follows:
Q Was there any time from the time that you entered into this arrangement to take care of the house Was there ever any time that you told any of your brothers or sisters either verbally or in writing that you were asserting full ownership rights excluding them from the premises?