Demystifying Real Estate: What is Adverse Possession?

Posted on: September 13, 2019

“The occupation of land to which another person has title with the intention of possessing it as one’s own.”

So, what exactly does that mean? Well, if an individual was to trespass on a given property and occupy it for an extended period of time, that means the property becomes theirs. You’re probably asking yourself how that comes to happen. More often than not, these unique situations involve encroachments, lot lines and easements. After a lengthy period of time, homeowner’s can claim these extra spaces as their own because they’ve been under the impression that this is part of their property.

In a recent experience, we had a seller who thought that their lot was a rectangle shape, but when looking over county records, it showed to be shaped more like a square. The fence that surrounded the lot had been there for over 40 years and even neighbors that had come and gone had their fence aligned with the sellers. The sellers thought to seek adverse possession, since the fence had been there for decades.

Luckily, they were able to find an old record proving the county had incorrectly mapped their property and didn’t have to take the adverse possession route. If you ever run into an instance like this, it essentially means taking possession of something that wasn’t originally yours but has been in the current state long enough to claim as yours.

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