Adverse Possession Law

Adverse Possession Law

Adverse Possession Law

In the United States, Adverse Possession laws vary between the state.  In a number of states, if a person participates actively and openly in the maintenance of a property without the help or permission of a property owner, they can claim ownership of the property.

However there are a number of factors key to determining if adverse possession is applicable.  The person on the property must be maintaining the property “adversely”, meaning doing so without the permission of the owner.   If a farmer knew someone was on his land, looking after it without their permission, but didn’t do anything about it, eventually the squatter could claim ownership.  However if the farmer agreed to let the person stay on their land for a certain amount of time, or had some other agreement in place, then adverse possession does not apply.  Adversive use (using the property without permission) must take place for Adversive Possession to occur.

Another important factor is that the adverse usage must be continuous and must be obvious.  That means that if someone drove past the property, it would need to be obvious that the property is occupied and maintained.  So if you drove past a farm it needs to be obvious that crops have been growing there.

Adverse Possession laws are in place because owning property is considered a privilege and that property can be taken away if not maintained. Additionally if a user refuses to pay taxes on their land, they can lose the land.  If a property owner lets their property fall into disrepair, then another person can come onto the property, repair it and take ownership.

A person must maintain a property for a relatively long time period, in some states as much as 15 years, before adverse possession can be claimed.  Some states have rapid adverse possession, with California only having 5 years before ownership can be claimed.

If you are seeking adverse possession or disputing an adverse possession claim by another party, it is essential that you get a lawyer immediately.  These disputes can become complicated and usually end up on court so be prepared!