Case Caption: Salvador Alvarez, v. Estate of Everlena Keel, Anton Keel, and All Persons Claiming Any Legal or Equitable Right, Title, Estate, Line, or Interest in Plot No. 9A Queen Street Christiansted, St. Croix Adverse to Plaintiff's Title, or Any Cloud on Plaintiff's Title Thereto and Does 1 Through 5, Inclusive Case Number: S. Ct. Civ. No. 2019-0009Date: 08/19/2020Author: Hodge, Rhys S. Citation: 2020 VI 15Summary: The Superior Court’s denial of a motion for default judgment in this quiet title action disposed of plaintiff’s claims, and was thus an appealable order. In this claim for adverse possession the plaintiff’s long continuous possession without payment of rent, when combined with other factors such as extensive improvements and repairs, and payment of property taxes, provided sufficient notice to the landowner that his possession was under a claim of ownership, hostile to the property owner’s interest. While a tenant cannot obtain a leased property by adverse possession simply by paying property taxes, here plaintiff possessed the property exclusively for more than 50 years, and also unilaterally took other actions that a landowner would normally undertake, including making numerous improvements and repairing the property after hurricane damage, without any prior agreement that he would do so, including undertaking an SBA loan to accomplish such improvements and repairs. The owner must be aware that plaintiff has not paid rent for at least 17 years. Taken together, these facts should have demonstrated to the landowners that plaintiff’s interest was possessory and therefore adverse as contemplated by 28 V.I.C. § 11. For the 15 year adverse possession period the owners slept on their rights, and therefore lost those rights. Because the Superior Court’s ruling was based on an erroneous application of law, its discretion was abused. The January 19, 2019 denial of default judgment is reversed and this action is remanded with instructions for entry of default judgment awarding plaintiff title to the subject property.Attachment: Open Document or Opinion