I live in Michigan and what I found about adverse possession not only covers Michigan, but Arkansas, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Vermont and Wyoming.
Many landowners are surprised to learn that under certain situations, a neighbor can occupy your land and gain legal ownership of it. The trespasser may acquire a few feet of property or whole acres by doing this. If someone is using your property, even a small strip on the edge, you should be aware of the risk!
Even if the neighbor can’t claim your property, they may be able to gain the legal right to use part of your property; this is called a prescriptive easement.
The legal doctrine that allows trespassers to become owners is called “adverse possession.” If the people involved can’t work something out, the property owner may sue the trespasser, or the trespasser may bring a lawsuit to quiet title (request for the court to settle who owns what).
REQUIREMENTS FOR OBTAINING LAND BY ADVERSE POSSESSION
A trespasser is entitled to legal ownership of property if his occupation of the property is hostile, actual, open and notorious, exclusive and continuous for a period of years (15 in Michigan) set by state statute. This does not apply to bank or government owned property (We explain each of these terms below). Bank owned property time limits are reset from point of sale. Government owned properties can never fall under adverse possession. Some states, such as California, also require the trespasser to have paid the local property taxes on the land.(1) The time required, which varies from state to state, is usually twenty years. It can be as short as five years when the trespasser pays the property taxes.
In Michigan, the elements of adverse possession are: ACTUAL, OPEN, NOTORIOUS, EXCLUSIVE, VISIBLE, AND UNINTERRUPTED POSSESSION of the property that was hostile to the owner and under cover of a claim of right for a fifteen-year period. Rozmarek v Plamondon, 419 Mich 287, 295; 351 NW2d 558 (1984).
It is possible to gain a prescriptive easement, also, the elements of which are the same except for exclusivity (it’s not necessary for the use by the person claiming the easement to have been exclusive). Plymouth Canton Community Crier, Inc v Prose, 242 Mich App 676, 679; 619 NW2d 725 (2000).
It is also possible to “tack” periods of successive adverse possession by successive owners (add the number of years together) in order to satisfy the statutory period, although it can be tricky to prove that all elements were satisfied by a former owner (or owners).
The word “hostile” does not mean that the trespasser barricades himself on the land with a shotgun. Most courts follow one of two legal definitions of hostile. One is called the “Maine rule” which applies to Michigan and requires that the person be aware that he is trespassing. The other rule (followed by most states) is the “Connecticut rule,” defines hostile simply as occupation of the land and doesn’t necessarily have to know that the land belongs to someone else.
ACTUAL, OPEN AND NOTORIOUS POSSESSION
The trespasser must actually be in POSSESSION of the property and treat it as if he were an owner. This means there must be a physical presence on the land. It’s not enough for someone just to make a claim, orally or in writing, of ownership.
The words “OPEN AND NOTORIOUS” simply mean that it must be obvious to anyone, including an owner who investigates, that a trespasser is on the land. Actual (physical) possession is usually open and notorious. A person pruning the rose garden that she planted on a strip of the neighbor’s back yard. Same goes for the neighbor who just put up a fence up slightly on your property is obvious.
EXCLUSIVE and continuous POSSESSION
The trespasser must possess the land exclusively and without interruption for the statutory time period. You can find how many years are required in your state from the chart below.
For continuous possession, the trespasser can’t give up the use of the property in such a way that he no longer acts as an owner, and then return to it and count the time that it was abandoned. It has to be maintained continuously.
The person trespassing must be the only one occupying the property – he can’t share possession with strangers or the owner. (By contrast, a trespasser can gain the right to use a certain part of another’s property, a prescriptive easement, even if possession or use is shared with others.
If one person uses the property for a while and leaves, and another shows up for a while, the times can’t be combined – the possession hasn’t been exclusive by one person.
If, however, the trespasser actually sells or gives the property to someone else, the recipient becomes the adverse possessor and the years that the first trespasser spent occupying the land count for the new one’s claim. This is called “tacking.” When one trespasser passes the land to the next, then that person’s claim is tacked on to the previous one.
WHAT CAN THE OWNER DO?
You can loose your property if you don’t keep an eye on it! Nobody should allow the boundaries to be redrawn by inattention and inaction — in a city, a loss of even twenty feet could be devastating to a property investment.
If you are concerned that someone has a possible claim to your land, check the local property tax records to see if anyone has made tax payments for the property. Paying taxes always bolsters an adverse possession claim, even when it is not required for a successful claim.
There are several steps an owner can take to prevent a trespasser from gaining a legal claim to the ownership.
GIVE WRITTEN PERMISSION
One effective way to thwart a possible claim is by giving permission to use your land. If Norma is out planting a garden in your backyard, treating it as her own land, step over and say “Hello, you are on my property by a few feet, but that’s okay.” You don’t have to throw her off your property; simply claim it. Then put the permission in writing and obtain an acknowledgment from Norma. The chain has been broken. She can tend that garden for forty years and still never acquire a legal claim to your property if she has your permission.
An example of written permission is shown below.
Agreement Granting Permission to Use Property
I, Homeowner, owner of the property located at 123 Fun Drive, Clearwater, FL, give my permission to Trespasser to plant and tend a garden located on a ten-foot strip of my property bordering the north of the property line. I reserve the right to revoke this permission at any time.
I, Trespasser, acknowledge that my use of this strip of and belonging to Homeowner is by permission only, and that the permission may be revoked at any time.
This type of agreement can be used to grant permission for parking, using a shortcut across property or even growing crops. It not only can defeat adverse possession claims, but also a claim to an easement across your property. When you use such a written permission, be absolutely sure that the portion of your land being used is described in enough detail so that it is easily identifiable.
If your neighbor is upset or insulted by the idea of a written permission, show them this webpage. Explain that while you have no objection to her use of your land, you must protect your interest for later years.
If the neighbor refuses to acknowledge the permissive use, you are then on the alert of a possible claim that is adverse to your interest, and you should take steps to prevent further use of your property.
OFFER TO RENT THE PROPERTY TO THE TRESPASSER
If someone wants to remain on your property, you can always offer to rent it to them. In fact, the presentation of a rental agreement can be very effective in getting some trespassers to immediately leave on their own.
CALL THE POLICE
If someone refuses to acknowledge a permission, and ignores your requests to stay off your property, you can call the police or notify the sheriff and have the person removed or arrested.
When the trespasser is a next-door neighbor, you may be understandably reluctant to bring in the police. But sometimes it is necessary to protect your property and will start a record that can save your property!
HIRE A LAWYER
Any time it appears that a trespasser may be entertaining the idea of claiming your property under an adverse possession theory, see a lawyer. You may need to file a lawsuit to eject the trespasser from the land. Or you may want to ask a court to order a structure removed or a person to stay away. You must act before the trespasser has been on your land long enough, under your state’s law, to make a successful adverse possession claim.
Jones and Smith share a boundary line of record. Smith knowing it is not his property occupies part of Jones’ property for a tennis court.
This type of boundary line question is really one of adverse possession. These cases are determined under the rubric of has the possessor established such possession to be actual, visible, open, notorious, hostile, continuous and adverse to all. Here there is no assumption that the parties agreed upon the placement of that part of the tennis court across the boundary line. There is no mistake as to where the line is. There is no actual or implied permission or acquiescence. Jones just takes land, fences it, covers it with tarvia and occupies it as a tennis court. The required number of years go by and Smith never objects or follows through on any objections that he may have. Jones is now the owner of the land or at least cannot be evicted. Numerous Michigan cases have dealt with such issues.
Michigan still recognizes “squatters rights”. That takes precedence over a survey. And the title company told us they will not get involved and it is in the fine print that they NEVER cover boundary disputes. Believe me, we have learned a lot in the last year and have spent a ton of money. You will likely have no problem.
State Time Limits on Adverse Possession from Black’s Law Dictionary, Fifth Edition.
Alabama: In Alabama the period of time for adverse possession must be at least twenty (20) years.
Arizona: In Arizona the period of time for adverse possession must be at least ten (10) years. Arizona Code §12-521 through 528.
Arkansas: In Arkansas the period of time for adverse possession must be at least seven (7) years. Arkansas Code §16-56-105; 18-11-102, 03; 18-60-212.
California: In California the period of time for adverse possession must be at least five (5) years. The claimant of an easement by adverse possession must also pay the taxes due for the five (5) year period if it has been separately assessed. California CC §1007.
Colorado: In Colorado the period of time for adverse possession must be at least eighteen (18) years. Colorado Code §38-41-101, 108, 109.
Connecticut: In Connecticut the period of time for adverse possession must be at least fifteen (15) years. Connecticut Code §37-40; 47-25.
Delaware: In Delaware the period of time for adverse possession must be at least twenty (20) years. Delaware Code §10-7901, 7902.
Florida: In Florida the period of time for adverse possession must be at least seven (7) years. Florida Code §95.16-.18.
Georgia: In Georgia the period of time for adverse possession must be at least seven (7) years for improved land and twenty (20) years for wild land. Georgia Code §44-5-175; 44-9-1.
Hawaii: In Hawaii the period of time for adverse possession must be at least twenty (20) years. Hawaii Code §657-31, 31.5.
Idaho: In Idaho the period of time for adverse possession must be at least five (15) years. Idaho Code §5-208 through 210.
Illinois: In Illinois the period of time for adverse possession must be at least twenty (20) years. This type of easement does not arise if the owner of the servient estate posts a conspicuous notice on the real estate stating that the use of it is permitted and subject to his/her control. Illinois Code §735-5/13-122.
Indiana: In Indiana the period of time for adverse possession must be at least twenty (20) years. Indiana Code §32-5-1-1.
Iowa: In Iowa the period of time for adverse possession must be at least ten (10) years. The owner of the servient estate may prevent the establishment of a prescriptive easement by serving written notice upon the easement claimant within the ten (10) year period that he/she disputes the claim. Iowa Code §564.1, 4-7.
Kansas: In Kansas the period of time for adverse possession must be at least fifteen (15) years. Kansas Code §60-503.
Kentucky: In Kentucky the period of time for adverse possession must be at least seven (7) years if held under patent and fifteen (15) years otherwise. Kentucky Code §413.050.
Maine: In Maine the period of time for adverse possession must be at least twenty (20) years. The owner of the servient estate may prevent a prescriptive easement by giving written public notice that he/she objects to the easement. Maine T.14, §812.
Maryland: In Maryland the period of time for adverse possession must be at least twenty (20) years. Maryland Courts Art. §5-103.
Massachusetts: In Massachusetts the period of time for adverse possession must be at least twenty (20) years. The owner of the servient estate may prevent prescriptive easement by posting a conspicuous notice on the real estate claimed as an easement which states the owner’s intent to prevent an acquisition of an easement. Massachusetts C. 187, §2-3.
Michigan: In Michigan the period of time for adverse possession must be at least fifteen (15) years. Michigan CLA §600.5801.
Minnesota: In Minnesota the period of time for adverse possession must be at least fifteen (15) years. Minnesota Code §508.02; 541.01-.02.
Mississippi: In Mississippi the period of time for adverse possession must be at least ten (10) years. Mississippi Code §15-1-7, 13.
Missouri: In Missouri the period of time for adverse possession must be at least ten (10) years. Missouri Code §516.010-.030.
Montana: In Montana the period of time for adverse possession must be at least five (5) years. Montana Code §70-19-405.
Nebraska: In Nebraska the period of time for adverse possession must be at least ten (10) years. Nebraska Code §25-202.
Nevada: In Nevada the period of time for adverse possession must be at least five (5) years. Nevada Code §11.070-.080.
New Hampshire: In New Hampshire the period of time for adverse possession must be at least twenty (20) years. New Hampshire C. 508, §2.
New Jersey: In New Jersey the period of time for adverse possession must be at least twenty (20) years. New Jersey Common Law.
New Mexico: In New Mexico the period of time for adverse possession must be at least ten (10) years. New Mexico Code §37-1-22.
New York: In New York the period of time for adverse possession must be at least ten (10) years. New York Real Prop. A&P.L. §501-551.
North Dakota: In North Dakota the period of time for adverse possession must be at least ten (10) years. North Dakota Code §47-05-12.
Ohio: In Ohio the period of time for adverse possession must be at least twenty-one (21) years. Ohio Code §2305.04.
Oklahoma: In Oklahoma the period of time for adverse possession must be at least fifteen (15) years. Oklahoma Code §12-93; 60-333.
Oregon: In Oregon the period of time for adverse possession must be at least ten (10) years. Oregon Code §12.050
Pennsylvania: In Pennsylvania the period of time for adverse possession must be at least twenty-one (21) years. Pennsylvania Code §42-5530.
Rhode Island: In Rhode Island the period of time for adverse possession must be at least ten (10) years. Rhode Island Code 34-7-1.
South Carolina: In South Carolina the period of time for adverse possession must be at least twenty (20) years. South Carolina Code §15-67-210 through 260.
Tennessee: In Tennessee the period of time for adverse possession must be at least twenty (20) years. Tennessee Common Law.
Utah: In Utah the period of time for adverse possession must be at least twenty (20) years. Utah Common Law; Title 78, Chapter 12.
Virginia: In Virginia the period of time for adverse possession must be at least twenty (20) years. Virginia Common Law.
Washington: In Washington the period of time for adverse possession must be at least ten (10) years. Washington Code §7.28.050-.090.
West Virginia: In West Virginia the period of time for adverse possession must be at least ten (10) years. West Virginia Common Law Code §55-2-1.
Wisconsin: In Wisconsin the period of time for adverse possession must be at least twenty (20) years. Wisconsin Code §893.28.
Wyoming: In Wyoming the period of time for adverse possession must be at least ten (10) years. Wyoming Code §24-1-101.
Note: This is not a substitute for legal advice. Accuracy is not guaranteed. An attorney must be consulted and you should check with your state to verify the accuracy of the above information. Credit to dot.ca.gov/hq/row/landsurveys/Study_material/California-Adverse-Possession.pdf for sections of above material. Laws may be different in your state.
I been staying in my home for 26years did all the upkeep mowing plumbing etc. The land lord stop coming around years ago but i did not pay any taxes can i file for Squatter Rights in Georgia how can i do it Its not right that he should get away the gouse was in great of disrepair when i moved in
My family has been taking care of this property for 58 years my dad payed taxes and it was home stead. He died last year now the third owner want to evict me, is that possible? Need help fast!
To my religious neighbor that advises ‘who is’ and ‘who is not’ going to be saved and her attorney son in-law are seeking adverse possession of an area of my land. I’m not religious but have values, and to you neighbor,
And a personal quote,
In 2002, we purchased a 3-season cottage in Western Maine. This is our beloved cottage on the lake that we have adored for the past 10+ years and now new neighbors have devalued our property. If you saw it, I think it would remind you of “On Golden Pond”.
At time of purchase, our primary concern was the shared cesspool on the neighbors property which has been there and maintained by the two parties for the past 50+ years. Nothing shows up on the Deed but before closing, we the buyers checked with the seller, the neighbors and the lawyer closing the sale and all of them said, “nothing to worry about, the cesspool has been here for many, many years and no issues”. WRONG!
In 2012, our elderly neighbors sold the cottage where the cesspool resides.
Yesterday, my husband went to our cottage to find that the neighbors had already disconnected us from the cesspool without contacting us. Neighbor is trying to make house conversion to year round and already had his new septic and leach field installed even though it is less than the required 100 ft setback for water frontage.
He said his lawyer sent us a Certified Letter re: cesspool but we have not received anything.
To make matters worse, the same neighbor drilled a well on property line so it is up for debate whether or not we will be able to even get a holding tank due to close proximity of his well.
Since the shared cesspool does not appear on our Mortgage Deed, do we have any rights for filing suit against this neighbor? We are middle class Americans; my husband is disabled and I work full time trying to keep our head above water so don’t have a lot of money for fees, etc.
Unsure about Easement by Prescription / Adverse Possession would hold up in Maine courts?
I actually went back to 1915 when land was divided on the deeds and found no mention of shared cesspool or easement.
This is a little town in Western Maine, what happened to communication and Love Thy Neighbor?
If only he had come knocking or calling saying, I’d like to close the cesspool and get full septic and let’s talk about you getting your own system, etc. NO CONVERSATION, NO TALK
My neighbor is cutting my trees and parking his cars on my wooded lot in back and side of my house. He has been moving over gradually. I ignored it, I’m kind of scared of the guy. I’m a sick, disabled old person and have to handle everything by myself. Don’t know what to do. Can’t afford a fence.
We bought our house about 7 years ago. The children of the owner who passed away sold us this house. Our neighbor now claiming adverse property right on the side of the house we are sharing since they have been taking care of it since the previous owner had let them.
From the research and investigation I have done about adverse property right, there was not any hostile takeover of the land in question. Can someone tell me if there is still a potential that we could lose our ownership to the property if we take them to the court.
I have a difficult situation, I co own 74 acres with my ex brother and sister in law. I received my ex husbands share of the land thru our divorce. We divided the land I had a survey done so that we could split the land. I was going to sell my share. I had a option contract on 4 out of 30 acres. The gentlement sent me a letter stating he was ready to exercise his option but never did anything. He never filed the option contract thru the courts either. He also purchased my home from me in which I gave him a 25′ right of way thru my property to get to his house. He still has not paid for this option land and the contract was for 4 months and was made in Sept 2010. He has removed trees on my land, he put in a black top driveway and he graded and leveled the remaining part of my land all without my permission. Does he have a right to do this? Even though he improved my land I think it is damages to me because I did not approve this I don’t feel our contract is valid since I believe he had up to 6 months after he exercised his option to purchace and he has not paid. In short is what he did to my land right? Do I have any right to sue him for damages?
My husband and I bought a 2+acre property in 1993 in Minnesota. A couple years later we added on a small piece of land that was located between the neighbor and us. Then we added on the west side, a piece of railroad property.
In 1995 our neighbor came over and asked if she could put up a satellite dish on the corner of our property close to her driveway. My husband said that we didn’t mind. Then in 1998, I called the neighbor to tell her that we were going to put up a fence on our east boundary line. Long story short, she went to an attorney and we received a letter offering us $500 for a piece of the property that was basically 1/3 of the entire property. We declined the offer. The neighbor has a place that looks like a junk yard. There are old boats, trailers, tractors and just plain junk. Plus they have animals and chickens running free. We wanted to keep the land as a barrier so we didn’t have to look at the junk.
Now 14, years later, my husband has passed away. I sold the property with a warranty deed because she had an attorney write me and told me that I couldn’t sell the property because she was claiming adverse possession.
I immediately had it surveyed. The survey concluded that everything is exactly as our title states and we have been paying taxes on it since we bought it.
Now that I have sold the property, do I have any options as to charging her with harassment these last 14 years? The new owner I believe can charge her with trespass if she doesn’t remove the satellite dish after he gets an order to have it removed – is that right? If she sues him for adverse possession, I will have to defend the title.
It has already cost me over $10,000 for legal work and I don’t see an end in sight. Please give some well needed advice as to how to bring this to a head so that we can defend it before the 15 years are up. Thank you.
I own 92 acres in southern NJ, Our property sits next to what was a 58 acre piece, The neighbors bought there property in 47, ours in 43 by g-parents, they sold off pieces and parts and were left with 20 acres that they sold, new owners has a survey done and moves the line 108 ft to give them 3 more acres and a nice strip of ground, displacing a lot at the front and causing general hell for everyone, this ground has sat like this for 67 years we have used it , posted it and paid taxes on it! does this qualify for adverse possession> ? I am pretty damn sure it does……… NJ is 60 years for wooded lines…………..
I thought Az stature was 2 or 3 years not 10.
If I am on a Farm where there is no description of the actual
lot I am on can I still file?
What is the name of the filing ?
I’m looking for the actual adverse possession document used in Michigan.
About 5 years ago, my husband and I set up a trailer on our poperty for our son, his girlfriend and their daughter. We paid for everything including the trailer, moving and setting up the trailer, dozing the property to prepair for the trailer, the well, the septic and the electric. We let them live there rent free. All they have to do is pay the electric which is currently in our name. Due to extreme circumstances, we are trying to get them to move. Do they have any squatter’s rights?
Where can I find out how long my neighbor has been here for?
I’ll try to make this as uncomplicated as possible.
My friend lives in a house that her husband physcially built 40 years ago, she was married to him for over 20 years. He died recently, left a will, the house is in both their names, and is homesteaded. The house sits on property that belonged to the Father in law, who had given the son the property VERBALLY, a deed was never drawn up, I know, stupid, but that’s the way a lot of families do things around here. At any rate, the FIL died, then the son got killed in a car wreck a year later, he had a brother, the brother is now the executor of the MOTHER’s estate and has POA, because she is in a nursing home. The father never left a will, the two brothers KNEW the property the one brother’s house sits on, was not part of the estate. Now that the other brother is dead, the surviving brother wants the disabled widow to pay rent on the property or vacate.
I KNOW that the father GAVE that property to the son 40 years ago, never charged him rent, and the father has told me on numerous occassions that he GAVE that property to the son.
Question is, does the widow have any rights, the surviving brother claims that because the house is on “his” property, it belongs to him.
This is in Texas.
I would advise everyone to make a will and if someone gives you property, get a deed or some sort of paperwork.
Can a neighbor’s fence that is on my property be taken by adverse posession?
I live in Massachusetts and the adverse possession is 20 years, here is my story and hope somebody can help. I bought the house in 1992, The house was built in 1986, One part of the driveway was built at the same time as the house in 1986. sometime in 1987,88 the rest of the driveway was built and paved with blacktop to make a half circle. The problem just late 2010,
My neighbor came to me to sign some kind of papers letting me know the part of the driveway is in his property, I in turn told him its not true, When I bought the house the driveway was always here I’m not the one that didn’t. His responds was that I’m the one that didn’t. I can prove from my neighbors that it was done before I came here. To make this short, I started to check on this and I was right its been well over 20 years so I left things alone. One day I come home and there is a huge bolder on the edge of the drive way and street because that’s the part he claims his. I called the police and they said it was a civil matter.
I did call my attorney and he said we can work this out. Its been well over 4 months and now he is back putting the boulders back. I need to stop him legal where it will not cost me my right arm. I just want to continue using the driveway, This guy thinks he owns the town and as money to spend. He know he can spend more then me,What is my recourse.
My mom paid the taxes on a house for twenty years with no help from owner. Totally renovated by her , Paid for all trees ,shrubs fence ect. Also paid gov .50,000 to keep the house because they said owner got it with ill gotten gains. Owner recently got out of prison and constantly threatens to put out her and his n my kids and sell house. House was bought for us over twenty years ago and was totally gutted out when he went to prison.Everything was paid for by my mom including 20 years of taxes. Went to court n paid the 50 grand. He has never lived in house but his kids grew up there. Utilities and everything else paid by me, plus all the care giving to the land. The deed is in his name but beyond purchase 20 years ago, he never put a dime in. Sewage backups, water heaters, ect. all us. Do we have any rights to this home/ Can we take it? House in NJ.
My grandparents own a house that I lived in with them and they died in 1990 and 1991 I moved out in 2000 and someone forged their signatures on the deed in 2004 and 2006 and the person who notarized the deeds was sentenced in november 2010 what. Can I doo to get my grandparents house back, I need help bad…..
In Hawaii, I know an individual who simply goes around and dumps piles of junk he scavenges from the dump onto other people’s vacant property. After a year or two, these properties are eyesores that will cost a lot of money to clean up.
I asked him why he does this and he said that he was taking adverse possession of the properties and that it was cheaper than buying the property. I did not know what he was talking about.
Well I do now. People like this need to be put in jail. They are pests and tear down the community.
I will try to keep this short. But it is quite complex and all the autorities I called said, no you have no right to go on the right side of your house if it is fenced all around. Period. I just found this out and It floored me. Well, I am writing due to a falling out with these controlling neighbors. I ask to come over to fix the gutters, etc; and I get very negative feelings and when I finally am able to come over, there is a screaming match having to do with not enough notice given.
Now, the thing is, I do own two feet of actual property over there. I am not sure If they are aware of it, but I studied my title. I realize I should let them know of this boundary (we all have bought our homes just 3 yrs ago) but now I am just shaken up. I am alone, 55, and could be looked upon as a pushover. I take care of my home meticulously, and refuse to let any inch of it fall into disrepair. I have been searching the web for so long, and found the best advice here. So, NOW I have just found out about AP and talk about a shaking up! Since my property is in their yard, of course they mow it and put their lawn furniture pretty near the line. People, thanks for reachng out, and could you possibly give me some advice on both issues? One, being access to work on my house, and two, them seizing my 3 feet that runs along the house? I live in Buffalo, NY, if anyone would possibly know the laws and regulations.
I just bought a house and the fence and block wall is on the other persons property by 6 feet. It has been this way for 20 years.Please answer
Upon viewing the town zoning map, I have found that a corner of my neighbor’s home and half their paved driveway is indeed within my property boundary. How can this be? The home in question was built in 1977 and has had a few different owners. The present owners purchased the home from a bank 3 years ago. It is amazing to me that nobody has noticed this previously. I bought my home 1 yr ago from my parents who had lived here 17 yrs.
My understanding is that when a bank takes title of a property, The clock starts over in regard to adverse possession. I am at a loss as how to approach this. I do not mind the neighbors using this land but think I should protect myself from future encroachment. As far as what has been taken so far, I guess I will have to take the hit, as I don’t see how it would be possible to alter the house construction.
I will obviously have to take a trip to the deed office but should I also speak with the title company I worked with when buying my house? The surveying company who surveyed last year. I will probably not say anything to the neighbors at this point but I am curious as to what will happen if they sell.
When getting a property surveyed is it custom to inform the other neighbors about what is taking place to keep everyone on the same page? or is it more likely to open up a nasty can of worms and get everyone fighting?
This is a good article , I am happy to have learned about this law, It has got me thinking. jo
My State has NO adverse possesion/squatters rights I got land w/squatter who said hed move He had me arrested instead Court gave 1/3 to him 4mos later court saw deed & made him move so said I chase him w/axe & got restraining order on me making it impossible to go home He beat me up & cut my long braid off & gave me 24hrs to leave my paid off land I have papers goin back 3yrs 3 diff ppl evicting him I’m now 54yro homeless & lost all including 7 dogs he killed Do I have retaliation against Judge? He failed me equal protection of law & deprived my 14th Ammendment knowing its a long going battle & squat lied & caught lieing 18Xs How can I get judge disbarred? Squat said he studied murder & knows he can do 2 or 3 w/o getting caught didn’t raise redflag Its cold in Ak & doubt I’ll live winter Squat stole my clothes What can I do? Any1 got plane ticket Anchorage-Denver they want to give me?
can a person claim adverse possession on contract for deed, if they have not made a payment in the last 12 years, this is in mt, which is 5 years st 70-19-405. have never heard from the holder of the contract for deed in all that time?
I was hoping someone could explaine to me the Adverse Possession Law in NH.
My parents are having an issue with new owners of the property next door to them. It seems that approx. 650SQ ft of there property is owned by my parents and they are claiming they can take the propety from them through Adverse possession. My parents have owned the property since 1976 and were not aware that there was a boundry issue.
My Parents purchased our property in 1948 on which they raised 5 children. Over the 62 plus years we have developed the land by adding a paved driveway, masonry walls, parking lot, fruit trees and lawns.The Adjoining property in question has been owned by at least 4 owners since 1948 and never has there been an issue or question of boundry lines.
My dad passed away in 1984 and she has “relied” on my her children since.
One of the children (an older sister) purchased the adjoining piece of property in 1995. My sister had the property surveyed and declared that our mother was encroaching on her property!
Surrepticiously in 1997 my sister telling my mother she was “selling” the property in question to my mom for a $1.00, when actually she duped her into signing a “rental agreement”. Then every year thereafter my sister copies the original 1995 document and changes the year without my mom ever signing any document since 1995. My sister has now spray painted a line down the driveway based on a survey she had done. Posted signs now appear along my sisters property.
To make matters worse, my sister convinced my mother in 2007 to sign over the family property to the 5 children and gave my mother “life’s rights”.
My younger brother has since been bought out by my sisters without my mom’s knowledge or my knowledge. (Another issue in question)
My sister has since started cutting down trees, removing brush, dumping piles of wood chips in the most inconvenient places and just being a nuisance. Mom believeing she has no rights to her property yields at every turn to my sister.
Mom hired an attorney to start representing herself and found out that she can keep anyone off her property. My sisters have been given formal notice of “NO Trespassing”. As of this date (9/2020) all is quiet for the moment until my sister plots her next move. She is not a nice person. My mother is 91 and I now have Power of Attorney that was taken away from my sister in 7/2010.
Did my parents own the property in question in 1960 12 years after 1948?
Can my sister claim the property in question back as hers even if has been developed with retaining walls and driveways? My sisters helped develop the property in question with their own hands.
Basically I’m ashamed my sisters and I am fighting back.
We live in a very small town and all the attorneys are buddy buddy.
I am reseaching attorneys in towns 40 miles away.
Any advice you can give will be appreciated.
Hi i found a home that would be great for me and my family to start a farm and i tracted done the owner and it was countrywide home loans inc. and found out they were bought out by Bank of America and i contacted then and they have no records of the property and i can’t get ahold of anyone from countrywide can i use adverse possision in this case to get the house and land
hello i just moved to college park ga and need to know the squatter’s rights here
i have seen several abandoned properties here and wish to know all else that i need to do here (missouri squatter)
Does adverse possession come into play on Native Indian land?
Also does Statue of Limitations come into play on Native Indian Land?
Your information regarding adverse possession in Florida is INCORRECT. You site the correct statute (95.16 – 18), But you apparently don’t read that well. THERE’S ABSOLUTELY NO REFERENCE to a 20 year period. It is 7 years under color of title, and 7 years if not under color of title if person has paid taxes.
Upon review of other comments to various posts on this site, I hope you’re not a lawyer; if you are I’d suggest increasing your malpractice coverage to about $1 BILLION !!
I thought the time limit in Fl was 7 years for adverse possession?please let me know what all had to be done in Fl. So I can keep my eye out. thank you
Update: The surveyor paid another visit and Mrs Doe was shown the property line once again. It didn’t change… this time, the surveyor put bright red caps on them and made sure they were well into the ground so that she could easily locate them.
There are people like Mrs Doe that will harass you and attempt to bully you into submission. Last time, she threatened to take a 15 x 300 lake front section from us, this time it was a lot smaller, but this is exactly what you have to watch out for!
This last incident was all over me edging the my driveway! Be thankful you don’t have a neighbor like this!
I purchased a log home in Granby VT on 67 acres (BIG THICK WOODS) . All title searches turned up no encumbrances. But, the sellers failed to disclose occupied trailers on the property. I discovered them after purchase. Now 3 years later we are waiting for our court day to permanently evict the tenants and demand removal of their 1952 trailers!!!! Maybe the trailers will rot quicker.
This has been a nightmare of reitrement.
C. Main –
Adverse possession is based on the statute of limitation doctrine. For any given jurisdiction, the statute of limitations is X years for trespassing, In KS it would be 15 years. Upon the running of the SOL, the original owner no longer has a right to eject the adverse possessor from the property. On the very day that the SOL has run, the property becomes the possession of the adverse possessor by Act of Law. Act of Law is tighter than a written instrument and even supersedes a Fee Simple Deed.
Without exigent circumstances, an appeals court will not hear questions of fact so I do not know if my advice helps. These are issues that should have been brought up at trial.
1) Assuming adverse possession was in fact taken, it most likely would have been taken prior to your purchase of the property in 2004. Therefore, any mitigation done by you would be moot. The possession would have been final on the day the SOL had run. This would also make your removal and replacement of the fence destruction of private property, a criminal offense, trespassing of land, trespassing of chattels and conversion, all both criminal offenses and tort offenses.
2) His purchase of the property in 1979 is not determinative of the day the SOL started to run. What day was it that he actually took possession of the property in question? What was the first year of the show? Fifteen years from that date is all you have to work with when questioning the validity of his claim.
3) His continued use of the property after the surveys is not a “defense” for you. If anything it strengthens his case. He knew, he was told, but he continued to use the property adverse to the actual owners rights.
4) At any time during the 15 year running of the SOL had a previous owner of your property given him permission to use the property? This would negate the adverse element unless the neighbor explicitly refuted the permission. The SOL would restart when an owner decided that he no longer wanted the neighbor to use the property (when his possession became adverse).
5) You say it was an annual show. Did he use the property at all the rest of the year. Continuous use is a required element of AP. Was there a period during any of the qualifying 15 years that he did not have the show and did not use the property?
6) An unquestioned deed is only a factor insofar as it relates to the type of claim that he is making, claim of right or color of title. Here, an unquestioned deed argument indicates a color of title case. This means that he actually thought that he owned the property and thought he had title to it. I believe this means little with regard to the numerous surveys as the court probably ignored the claim and decided the case on a claim of right grounds. Color of title would only be an issue if he was trying to annex more property than was actually used.
7) Who was the previous owner? When did they buy it? How did he feel about the neighbors use? If he had a running battle with the neighbor and the neighbor continued to use the property anyway, this is bad for you (it is called ADVERSE possession). If, however, he knew that he owned the property and was just letting the neighbor use that property, you may have a case.
8) Exclusivity is also a required element of adverse possession. At any time did the neighbor not allow an actual owner to use the land? If so the SOL would not run until the neighbor explicitly put a stop to this use and the neighbor again became the exclusive user.
The key is to look for breaks in the elements, once an AP ceases to use the land, it can be claimed that the continuous element has been broken and the SOL had to restart. Same with the exclusivity and adversity elements. The problems lies in getting former property owners into court to testify.
If you can show that the trial judge erred with respect to a question of law you may receive a new trial and be able to ask the questions above. If not, bully for your neighbor. There are reasons that the law allows this this happen.
Above is based on federal rules and generic jurisdictions.
Your input on the Idaho adverse possession laws is in fact incorrect. according to the Idaho Code A5-210, the period is 20 years and not 5 years. Might want to look into changing that on your site so that you are not providing false information.
My neighbor will mow weekly about an eight foot section of my property. Even if I had mowed the property the day before. He jokingly says he can claim the property because he has maintained the property, is this true?
I may be the accidental trespasser. When we bought our home with 5 acres over 10 years ago, we were shown a fence on one edge of the property as being the property line. Since then, we have planted trees along that edge, and many others have grown up on their own.
Our neighbor (a farmer who owns many acres around us) claims that the fence is not the actual boundary. He now wants to move the fence a few feet into what we consider our property. This will require most of our trees to be removed to accommodate the fence.
Also, at this time he does not make us pay for half of his fencing (we do not farm), but if we don’t go along with his plan, he can legally make us do that.
You have to stay on top of this, at least that’s the way it is with my neighbor.
I was out edging my property when Mrs. Doe came out and told me I was edging her property! She had just called out the local surveyor last year, found out that it was indeed our property and promptly removed the stakes a week later.
In talking with her further, I found out she wants to put up a fence, but in order for it to look nice, it would need to butt up against our driveway and well into our property, otherwise, it would sit closer to the center of the properties and would look odd. So, rather than ask, I believe she just made up a story and thought I would go along with it.
A couple of years ago, Mrs Doe tried to take a huge section of our back yard, claiming that she maintained it and that her attorney friend said she could take us to court – I didn’t mess around with that and immediately put up a nice fence!
Moral of the story: There are always those people who will try to push you around and take what is rightfully yours; with these people, you have to stay on top of your game, take every comment seriously and be firm in your resolve!
I thought the time period for adverse posession in Virginia is 15 years rather than 20.
PRE PAID LEGAL? PLEASE come back and post what they tell you! These crooked attorneys are QUICK to tell you how OLD a law is ‘on the books’ that benefit THE PEOPLE and we find out that we have some power and start applying it! lol. I have been doing adverse possession for years, and IT IS POSSIBLE TO DO! You just have to be aware of the local customs pertaining to TRESPASSING, and be smart about taking possession; but then I also perfect my claim in COMMON LAW, and do a land patent. I DON’T LIVE ON THE PUBLIC SIDE, but rather the private.
Can’t wait to hear the PPL story… I used to sell it until I found the POWER OF THE COMMON LAW! Now I am a common law lawyer, and a Private Atty General :)) for assistance with adverse possession issues, I am available via at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ok..My parents bought a house with 1.9 acres in 2004 and there was an existing fenceline that my neighbor, who has an annual farm show, had placed on the so called “property line”. When we moved in we took down the poorly constructed fence because we had had our land surveyed and the survey markers disagreed with the existing fence.
We then erected a fence so that I could get a horse for a 4-H project. Our neighbor threatened to file a lawsuit against us for stealing his land. He bought his land in 1979, there was a survey done in 1990 to show the boundaries, therefore he couldn’t yet claim adverse possession because it was only 11 years and in Kansas you have to obtain the land for at least 15 years. Every time this questioned land was surveyed, he would remove the survey markers, claiming he didn’t know what the “obstruction” was so he removed it.
When we moved in in 2004, we had the land surveyed again to make sure of the boundaries. He removed all 7 markers, yeah we had to have 7 surveys done in a matter of 2 years. Finally in 2006 we erected a fence. However, when he held his annual farm show, a tractor-trailer laid our fence flat!!!
This past year we have been to court with him. He claimed the deed had been unquestioned since 1979, why then had there been a total of 15 surveys since 1979??? My question exactly! However, the judge granted him the land and I no longer can have a 4-H project because the fenced in land was 1.5 acres and now we only have approximately .4 acres…which we do live in the country therefore we have a septic system and now we couldn’t get a new septic system put in because we do not “””own””” 2 or more acres. Also, we will never be able to sell this house!!!
Do we ask the presiding judge to reconsider or do we take it to the Kansas Appellate Court?
Give me your thoughts please!! Anything, comments, questions, advice!!!!!!
own 40 acres since 1994 with a one acre cemetary in once corner. moved back home here in ar. been here for 2 years and my own family are trying to take more property from me since i have arrived since they have mowed the area around the graveyard in exchange for parking during funerals and decoration day they want to take more land from me. i have paid the taxes and my father paid the taxes on this property and the only reason they could park in our field was during the funerals and special services was in exchange for keeping the mowing up. we had already donated the one acre. how much do we have to keep giving these back stabbing people. i am the only one left and they just keep taking and taking.
I found an abandond house in san Fernando valley, California. I have lived here for about five years, I have had the utilities on 95% of the time, in mine and other friends name. I have made alot of improvements here. No one has ever came here to claim this house. Recently some home less people learned that I am here, they try to mussel me out. I stand my ground. the homeless people here use drugs and are distroying the place,I have no leagle recourse here. how do I start the the adverse possion paperwork ? and how do I prove I have been here the whole time?
please advise me so that I can get this place. I belive I can afford the property taxes.
As it happens I am a “trespasser”, so to speak, unbeknowst to me when I bought my property the septic tank happens to have been put on someone else’s property, of which there was a verbal agreement between the former owners, of course, it not being in writing doesn’t mean much now that someone else has bought the property that my septic is on.
The septic has been there a total of 25 years already, so according to this adverse possession law, of which I am now learning about, could mean I could retain the property, as I have maintained it for the last 7 years, and the people who sold me the property did the same for 18 years. There wouldn’t have been this problem if I would have know who owned the property where the septic is, I could have purchased it from them, but was told it belonged to the Corp of Engineers, which was not the case, and when I purchased said property, the owners walked the property line with my son, and of course, the line they walked was behind the septic tank,
I had no idea of this not being the real property line. So I was sold the property thinking my line was further out than it truly is, now that I have had to pay for a survey of my own. And since, this person who bought the property, is not willing to sell it to me, or come to any type of resolution, it is only .021 of an acre that is being contested. He wants $7000.00 now for it.
Feeling that the law will probably be in my favor I am going for adverse possession of the property, which is in Missouri and you only have to take care of it for 10 years, consecutively, and it has been longer than that, time adding to 25 years. So, sometimes, what happens isn’t always the trespasser’s fault.
This just happened to me. My Father was friends with the person that took 4.26 acres in 1992 until he passed in 2001. Now my fathers friend whol lived next to us took us to court and retained it by adverse possession, because he mowed it, and my father knew it because they were “friends” My family has paid taxed on this portion of land for 41 years. This “friend” knew this was not his as in the deed and survey at the time of sale. And now just took it!!! Our local county judge determined this because he mowed it and it did really need to be mowed, he thought it would make his place look better. We can’t spend anymore money on this. I do want to be advocate like you to tell people please walk all property lines and mark them clearly and run people off your property in any circumstance. Its Land Grabbing here in Arkansas. I know now I can go mow some property with permission for five years and then it Mine!! Thanks, Stephanie Yant
What is the time for adverse possession in TX? It is not listed as one of the states.
I pay 26$ a month for pre paid legal and, all I have to do is call and, ask them. They answer me for free. I intend on using them to walk me through an advers possession.
Whoa, Jim!!! Doesn’t it just blow your mind that someone would stoop so low? I mean I would never want to steal from my neighbors even if it was legal. After all, these are the people you will be living next to. Not to mention it is just morally wrong. No doubt that it was your neighbors intention from the beginning.
I’m so glad that you neighbor, nor mine was able to get away with it.
OMG, these people are cut from the same cloth. You wrote, “There are always people out there ready to take what you worked so hard for, they’ll do it with a smile and try to make you feel bad for protecting what’s yours.”
Let me tell you that after we had the agreement written up for them to sign the husband came over while I was working in the yard and had the audacity to tell me that his wife was “hurt and offended” that we didn’t talk to her first before going to an attorney. He even implied that we owed her an apology and stated that he hoped “she would get over it in time”. I wished I could do the cartoon character face where the eyes pop out of the head, the scalp blows off and the mouth falls to the ground! That from someone who did what they did without so much as a word. She was something else, this lady. When we saw the changes my husband asked me, “Did she ask you if she could do that?” My reply, “Ask me?!!!! She didn’t even tell me!!!!” But yet we should have talked to her first. “Hurt and offended”, hmmm…..she’s lucky she’s not bruised and beaten.
Sorry about the rant but it angers me still to this day and it’s been over a year.
Good luck and enjoy your property!!
That was my situation! As we moved into our home, our retired neighbor (dealing almost always with the wife) stated that they had always maintained a section of our lawn because it was too hard for the previous owner of our home to mow. That section of lawn was 15 x 300 that ran down to the lake!
I explained to her that I was more than capable of taking care of my own lawn and told her how kind she was to do such a good deed. I thought that had taken care of everything, but, to my surprise, the next week, she and her lawn service started mowing that section of my lawn!
I explained to the lawn service that they were mowing my lawn and asked them to stop. Their response was that they had always mowed it in the past. I explained that I’m the new owner and I didn’t want them on my lawn again.
My neighbor, very upset, told me that she had told everyone what ‘nice neighbors we were’ and now I’m behaving like this. I again, in a very nice and non confrontational manner, explained that I am capable of mowing my own lawn.
Next week, same story! So, we solved the problem by putting up a very nice fence. When she found out what we were doing, she flipped and said that she talked with an attorney friend who said that she could claim that property as hers because she has been taking care of it and has proof!
Perhaps she thought that this might scare me into letting her continue to mow my lawn without her filing a claim, perhaps she just wasn’t thinking when she made that statement, but one thing is for sure, I knew right then that I wasn’t the bad neighbor; she was as you say Tonya, a sheep in wolves clothing!
Because I acted fast to stop my encroaching neighbor and didn’t wait, she was not able to file a claim.
Moral of my story – when you buy property, make 100% sure no one is encroaching upon it! There are always people out there ready to take what you worked so hard for, they’ll do it with a smile and try to make you feel bad for protecting what’s yours.
Fences really do make good neighbors!
Hi Eward, I really feel your plight. Almost four years ago my husband and I purchased our first home in Upstate NY on one and a third acre of land. Our neighbors seemed fabulous, almost too good to be true. We had only owned it three months and lived there only on the weekends when the neighbor asked if she could encroach on our property just a few feet.
At first we foolishly agreed, but was told by a more informed owner that it could weak havoc if ever we sold. She must have been told the same thing because she said her lawyer said it would be a legal mess. We were relieved because we didn’t have to be the bad guys and they seemed so nice. Months later she asks me if I knew of a law where you use someone’s property as your own and it can become yours. Nope, never heard of it. That just seemed crazy to me since I had signed documents saying we owned the property. I didn’t think anything of it.
Forward a year and half later. We were allowing them to use a portion of our land as a garden because the previous owners shared it with them and we wanted to be nice. Anyway, we wake up one Saturday and find that they had cut down quite a few of our trees. This was done while we were at work with NO prior discussion or permission asked or granted. We were livid but decided not to make a big deal about it. I did contact an attorney because suddenly that crazy conversation we had came to mind.
I showed the neighbor our survey and told her that there seemed to be some confusion about the property line. She never said that she knew it was ours and was even going to let us pay for a survey so that markers could be placed. Long story short a few weeks later they had cleared the land, had a tree stump removed, planted a row of trees and constructed a rock border which greatly encroached on our property, all with input from a long time neighbor.
According to a web site I found, she had done everything required to claim adverse possession except graze cattle. We consulted several attorneys and had a legal agreement written up. We met with them and they apologized and admitted that they knew it was ours and that they were just making it tidy. Yeah, if making tidy and stealing mean the same thing, then yep they were making it tidy.
They were betting on two things. They hoped that we didn’t know the property line, or they hoped that we would just let it stay because it did look better. We barely speak to these thieves in sheeps clothing. Their intentions were clear and we were deeply hurt, but ever so grateful that she so stupidly educated us about that “crazy” law. She would have gotten away with it were it not for her own big mouth!
Why is it so expensive to fight this if your neighbor doesn’t have a strong case? What exactly has he done to make him believe he stands any chance of winning? I’m so sorry about this. Just as soon as we can we will erect a fence. I hate the thought of the expense but it’s a lot cheaper than wasted legal fees.
Fences make good neighbors!!! What a wise statement! Good luck!
if anyone has the answer to the following, please answer:
Does adverse possession apply to homes as well, or just acres of land?
my neighbor if you call him that, is bringing me to court for my own property. I pay taxes on it and he never built a shed a fence anything on my land never planted a tree a shrub (as he admitted in the depo)
There a six markers on the exact legal property line that he says he never saw…He has 4.5 acres i have 1.5 if i lose i will have a non conforming lot..Boy what a great neighbor..Me and my wife had to close our retirement account to pay for all the legal fees $25,000 and counting June 15th 2009 is the date set for a week of trial.
He has no case but a lot of money ..BEFORE YOU BUY A HOUSE GET IT SURVEYED OR WALK THE PROPERTY WITH THE SELLER ..We do have title insurance and the gave us 8000 dollars to defend but that is nothing compared to what it cost to go to court in New Hampshire..the kicker is that his best friend who is divorced from the lady i bought the house from was on his side in the beginning before we had to serve him with papers for slander of title since him and alex agreed on a certain line .(not visible )..and never told the ex-wife .. so i also have to bring in the poor mother of 2 to court since she sold the property to me ..FOR WHAT A SMALL 9000sqf..NICE NEIGHBOR> Sorry just needed to vent..there’s is a lot more if anyone wants to chat about it ..
How many years does a person in CT need to be using property under the Adverse Possession and Prescriptive Easements law.
Where do they file a suit and how can I find out if they filed a suit.
Can they file a suit at the CT law library?
Are these suits expensive to file.
I may have a neighbor that has been using my land for over 20 years
claiming adverse possession.
There is a house located on a busy highway in Owen County Indiana. I habeen burnt on the back half and sets empty. It has no signs posted for no trespasing or any sign of owners. I have watch this place for almost 2 years. I want to move in and fix it up, but if the owner finds me there and he wins a suit must he pay for the improvements, taxes and such?
My mom and dad, bought one ac. in 1972 in Missouri. and they never built anything on it. There are other one acre tracks around them but none have anything either, but if one of the other tracks next to my mom and dads has someone on it and uses a small part of my parents land, adverse possession in Missouri is 15 yrs they can really take the land, is there anything i can do, can no trespassing signs work or something else?
We have a situation where the front boundary has a road easement on it. The road that was put in is NOT on the easement but on the other side and our adjoining property owner is driving on it and demanding to pave the area. We do not want a permanent road there as the road should have been placed where the easement is. I do not know how to legally prevent this other owner from driving on this gravel road that pre-exists. It will prevent him from accessing his property without constructing a road on the easement. My question is can we legally fence in this area and he not be able to gain access to his drive prior to constructing a new road on the easement? We are being harrassed by these people and feel we need to do this to protect us as they are alway scheming up trouble for us and the other neighbors.