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Understanding adverse possession in real estate

On Behalf of | Oct 13, 2021 | Uncategorized |

If you have heard the term “adverse possession,” then you may be aware that it is a process in which someone tries to possess a piece of property as their own despite not having the title. In an adverse possession case, it may be possible to take possession of another person’s property and the property title if you meet certain requirements.

The common law requirements for adverse possession state that a single adverse possessor needs to keep continuous possession of the property. The possession must be hostile, which means that the true owner’s rights are being infringed upon. If they give permission to be there, then adverse possession cannot take place.

Another rule is that the possession of the property must be obvious. So, if you plan to take control of a house that has been empty on your street, you’d have to make your possession and use of the property obvious. That would allow the true owner to see that you are trespassing, which gives them the right to ask you to leave.

On top of all this, you also have to show that you are truly in possession of the piece of property. For example, if you moved furniture into the home and have been using it as your own, then that could help you qualify under adverse possession rules. You should also exclude the use of the property from others, essentially taking control as if this is your home or property.

How long do you need to adversely possess a property before you can get the title?

Normally, the term is around seven years if it falls under color of title. If not, then you may have to possess the property for 20 years or longer.

Adverse possession could help you obtain the rights to a property, but it’s risky business. If at any time before the statute of limitations the true owner arrives, then you may find your investment in repairing the property or taxes completely lost. It would be better, especially as a business owner or real estate investor, to seek out the true owner to make a deal for a purchase.