What Is Adverse Possession?

What Is Adverse Possession?

March 13, 2021

You’re probably familiar with the term “trespassing.” Images of teenagers walking across your lawn probably come to mind. Adverse possession does involve trespassing, but it is much more involved than an invasive stroll through your lot. Following is a quick overview of adverse possession law in Guadalupe County, TX and what you need to know to protect your property from adverse possession.

Adverse possession in Guadalupe County, TX defined

Adverse possession is a process by which a trespasser gains ownership of someone else’s property. The trespasser enters the property, occupies it for a certain period of time and gains legal ownership of the land. The parcel could be a few feet or hundreds of acres. The time period required for this ownership to take effect varies by state.

How it happens

Adverse possession can occur through a variety of circumstances. It can even happen by honest mistake. For example, a neighbor may build a fence that encroaches on your property without realizing they have crossed the property boundary. Years go by, and eventually, through adverse possession law in Guadalupe County, TX, the land surrounded by their fence becomes theirs. This is why it’s important to know your property boundaries by partnering with a professional land surveyor.

Legal qualifications

If an adverse possession claim is taken to court, four factors are crucial to the case. The courts will look for these factors to determine adverse possession in Guadalupe County, TX:

  • Hostile claim: The courts will note if there is a hostile claim to the land. This is defined in one of three ways. Simple occupation involves mere occupation of the property. The person who is trespassing does not have to realize the property belongs to another owner. Awareness of trespassing is a situation where the trespasser knows that use of the property is considered trespassing. Good faith mistake occurs when the trespasser occupies the property based on false information, such as an erroneous deed, which leads to mistaken occupation of the land.
  • Actual possession of the land: The courts will also need to verify that the trespasser is physically present on the property and treats the land as if it were their own. This is proven by reviewing documentation that the trespasser maintained and/or improved the property.
  • Open and notorious possession: This qualification means that it must be clear that a trespasser is on the property. If boundaries are investigated, it would be obvious to anyone that trespassing has occurred. Examples might include constructing a fence that encroaches on the neighbor’s land.
  • Exclusive and continuous possession: For a court to declare adverse possession, the trespasser must have exclusive possession of the land, without interruption, for a specified period of time. The time period required is based on the adverse possession law, and varies by state.

Know your rights

Filing or fighting a claim based on adverse possession will require the services of a boundary surveyor. For more information regarding adverse possession law in Guadalupe County, TX, contact your local land surveying experts at Bettersworth & Associates, Inc today.

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