What Is Adverse Possession?

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 October 2011 10:00 Written by Chris Griswold Tuesday, 18 October 2011 10:00

This time of year, while heading into the holidays and the seasons are changing, you think about family, friends and loved ones. Myself, I think about my Dad. When Dad died 4 years ago, I realized that I was, personally speaking, “on my own.” From that point forward, he wouldn’t be coming up behind me with “extra gas” on that “jeep-trail-of-life” that we all must travel. However, in reality, it’s adversity like that which builds character in us all. If it wasn’t hard, it wouldn’t be such a great journey…. Speaking of adversity, have you ever wondered what it takes to acquire title to property by adverse possession? Today we’re going to get a handle on this often discussed concept. Read more below (and don’t forget to click on my Facebook or YouTube links below to also see my short video on this material).

What Is Adverse Possession?

Adverse possession (also known as “title by prescription”) is a tricky area of the law. To obtain title by adverse possession, you need to know (in advance) that it is disfavored by the courts. The person claiming title by adverse possession has the burden of proving each of the elements that follow by “clear and positive proof” and, in any cases of ambiguity, the law will favor the actual record title holder (this is the person that owns it according to courthouse records). The elements which prove title by adverse possession are:

1) Hostile (i.e., you possess it under a claim of right or color of title),
2) Actual (i.e., you actually possess it),
3) Visible (i.e., your possession is not hidden from view and can easily be seen),
4) Open and Notorious (i.e., it is so generally known by the public in the area surrounding the subject property so as to give the actual owner notice of your possession),
5) Exclusive (i.e., no one else but you possesses the property) and
6) Continuous for 15 years (i.e., there are no gaps in your possession of the property).

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