What Is the Adverse Possession Law?

What Is the Adverse Possession Law?

October 11, 2019

Adverse possession law is a concept you’re going to need to be familiar with if you ever find yourself in property disputes in Guadalupe County, TX.

The general idea behind adverse possession is that it is a concept in which one person can possess all or part of another person’s titled property by occupying that land for a certain (extended) period of time. This is different from a standard real estate transaction, in which a property owner is compensated for their land. Instead, adverse possession involves a person who can take control of land by using it in conflict with the owner’s actual rights to that land for a certain period of time.

During that adverse possession period, the user of the land could be technically trespassing, but the owner could eventually lose ownership of that piece of land. Each jurisdiction will have its own rules regarding adverse possession and the necessary time required. It will usually be multiple years.

What is the point of adverse possession laws?

It might seem improper on its face to have a legal mechanism by which a person who does not own a piece of land can ultimately take that land from the actual owner. However, the law exists essentially to add a statute of limitations to title disputes.

Say you have a person who owns a piece of land for a long time, and then suddenly you have a long-lost heir of a previous owner who appears and attempts to claim a legal title to the land. There is a possibility that they were the legal owner of the land, and that it should have passed down to them through their loved one’s estate. However, adverse possession laws would prevent the current person using the property from losing title to it, because after a certain amount of time that long-lost heir’s claim would have significantly weakened. It is on the landowner to enforce his or her property rights in a timely manner, or else risk losing title to the property.

Adverse possession laws can be used for sections of land in addition to whole plots. If a surveying error results in a neighbor building a structure on what should technically be your land, and you notice this issue but do not stop them from proceeding, he or she could gain a permanent claim to that section of the land. You must stop the neighbor from completing that structure or put in a claim before the adverse possession laws would begin to apply in your case.

Finally, if there is a squatter on a piece of property who is not removed from a property for the entirety of the time necessary for adverse possession to apply, that squatter could gain right to the property. The legal owner of the property can avoid issues with adverse possession by either giving temporary permission to the squatter, by renting the property or by kicking the squatter off the property.

For more information about adverse possession laws and property disputes in Guadalupe County, TX, contact Bettersworth & Associates, Inc. today.

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