How Accession Works

Accession most commonly works in two ways. The first way accession functions is by the addition of property or value through human-made means. Any additions to the property created by the owner legally belong to the property owner. Additions may come in the form of agriculture or buildings. In this type of accession, the land produced a new commodity but would not have done so without the owner's intervention.

Accession can also produce new property or land. This typically happens as a result of erosion or deposits. Rivers, streams, and other bodies of water often contribute to changing landscapes. Bodies of water may bring a deposit of silt or soil, or water levels may recede, resulting in new beach land. This would create a new type of land on the property owner's plot.

Example of Accession

Jane bought a plot of land. This plot of land consisted of three acres of field and a small house. Jane decided that she wanted to plant two acres of wheat to start her own flour business. Jane's crop was soon ready for harvest, and she began to mill and sell the flour.

As Jane grew her business, she decided to add new crops. Jane put a rotation of corn and soybeans into her fields and expanded her business. In addition to expanding her crop harvest, Jane also built a small building on the edge of her land. She used this building to process her harvests and mill her flour.

Several years after Jane first planted the wheat, she decided to sell her property. From the time Jane had first purchased the property and the time she was selling, many things had changed. Now Jane had several producing fields and a new building. Now her property was valued much higher than her original purchase price. Jane was able to sell her property with the crops and processing building intact and for a profit. This is an accession of value through the addition of labor.

Accession vs. Avulsion

Accession and avulsion both deal with the shifting of value or amount of property owned but differ greatly. While accession is a term used for the addition of property or property value, avulsion deals with the loss of property due to natural causes.

You can see avulsion through erosion—properties along many coastlines or large bodies of water experience this. When wind, rain, or water flow occur continuously and over long periods, they can wear land away. In addition to banks, some severe cases may see large swathes of land destroyed and removed through the process of avulsion.

However, these long-term avulsion cases are not the only way a property can be damaged and lost. Natural disasters such as a hurricane or earthquake can also shift property lines. In these cases, property loss and shifting lines happen very quickly and quite radically. This type of property damage can negatively impact the property value.