They say football is a game of inches. That is also true of the bruising sport of New York real-estate development.


New York lawmakers tightened the adverse-possession law in 2008, after the state’s highest court ruled that a couple gained ownership of their neighbors’ land because they tended to the property, including by installing a bird feeder and underground dog fence. But lawyers have continued to bring claims.

“Adverse possession is for the underdog,” said real estate attorney Adam Leitman Bailey. “It’s use it or lose it. Rich people hate it, but I think it’s phenomenal.”

Still, sometimes rich people use it.  Bailey is currently litigating an adverse-possession claim on behalf of a Fifth Avenue co-op board suing a rental building owned by former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who is seeking to tear down the building and build luxury condos.  At issue is a 340-square-foot depression between the buildings, known as the Pit.

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