Adverse Possession of Property

Some property owners find pieces of their land seized by the new owners after many years of contentment. When the owner of that property does nothing to keep ownership of that part of land, he/she might not own that part as per law. It means the owner of the property no longer holds possession and the new owner has the right to put his/her name in the legal documents. By trespassing or living as a tenant in that building or property the person has the right to stay there and as he/she is using the property as his/her own for a long period of time, it often provides legal ownership to that person as per the laws of the state. For instance, if a person lives abroad and has a property in India which is unattended for years and a person starts living in that property and uses that property as his own and is doing that for many years, then he/she may become the legal owner of that property.

Adverse possession can happen either intentionally or unintentionally without the knowledge of the owner or sometimes can happen with the knowledge of the owner also. Intentional adverse possession is when a trespasser illegally comes to live on someone’s property or comes to take over that property. In some cases, adverse possession can be unintentional. For example, a person unintentionally while building a fence in their backyard takes some part of their neighbour’s land inside their fence. In both the cases the adverse possessor can claim the property.

Adverse Possession of Ownership of Property:

Whenever in any case the trespasser claims the property, the laws of the state where the property is can grant ownership to him/her. It is possible that a piece of a land is given to that person, and it is also possible that hundreds of acres of property is given to that one person. The situation of adverse possession often occurs when one person puts fence over the boundary or property of his neighbour and the sale deed does not specifically mention the boundaries of his/her land. It is discovered by the owner mostly when sale of property is to be done that adverse possession has been done. When that fence has been there for a long time or the trespasser is residing on that property for a long period of time, then that portion of land is no longer under the ownership of the owner. The neighbour then usually posses the land as well as the building.

Requirements for Proving Adverse Possession:

The requirements for proving adverse possession vary from state to state. In some states, proof of payment of taxes on that property and a deed is required for proving adverse possession. Also, there is a period specified by each state within which the owner of that land has the right to invalidate that claim. For example, if the state specifies 20 years threshold and the landowner pays for the maintenance of the house in the 19th year, the there is a chance the claimant might have a hard time proving adverse possession. To successfully prove adverse possession the following requirements should be fulfilled:

  • Continuous use of that property
  • There must be a hostile takeover of that property
  • There must be open possession of the property
  • The possessor possesses the property, which means maintaining that property and paying taxes and all other responsibilities are take care of by the claimant.
  • There is an exclusive use of that property by the claimant

Aishwarya Says:

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