Adverse possession is a legal doctrine that allows a person to acquire valid legal title to another person's land, real estate, or other property. To do so, certain common law requirements must be met, such as continuous possession, hostile possession, open and conspicuous possession, and more. This doctrine rewards the productive use of land and punishes landlords who do not respect their rights. If a neighbor, for example, inadvertently builds a fence a foot from your property and starts using the land surrounded by the fence, and you do nothing to stop it, you may eventually be able to claim adverse possession of that part of your property.
However, the adverse owner has the right to use the property in a manner consistent with the type of property they own. In order to successfully claim adverse possession of another person's property, there are certain criteria that must be met. The first is that the possessor must have actual possession of the property. This means that they must have exclusive control over it and be able to demonstrate that they are using it as if it were their own.
The possessor must also have an intention to possess the property. This means that they must have an intent to use it as if it were their own and not just as a temporary measure. The possessor must also demonstrate that their possession is open and notorious. This means that their use of the property must be visible and obvious to anyone who passes by.
The possessor must also demonstrate that their possession is hostile. This means that they must be using the property without the permission of the true owner. Finally, the possessor must demonstrate that their possession is continuous. This means that they must have been in possession of the property for a certain period of time without interruption.
The length of time required varies from state to state but is typically between five and twenty years. Adverse possession is an important legal doctrine that allows people to acquire valid legal title to another person's land or other property. By meeting certain common law requirements such as continuous possession, hostile possession, open and conspicuous possession, and more, a person can successfully claim adverse possession of another person's property.