What Is Adverse Possession?
Adverse possession occurs when a person gains land ownership through illegal means such as breaking into a private residence or gaining access through an open field without proper intent.
Such possessions may be founded upon force or fraud but are regarded as legal if done for lawful purposes, such as growing trees on someone else’s property or building a shed on someone else’s land. Adverse possession, sometimes called “squatter’s rights,” is a method to acquire title to the property when the actual owner is unknown or can’t be discovered.
How Adverse Possession Works?
Adverse possession can happen if a property remains unoccupied for a long time to the point that the titleholder forgets they even own it and stops paying taxes and maintenance on it. Someone else can then quietly take over and start using the property as his own.
Any activity in which a person occupies another person’s land without that person’s consent or authorization constitutes trespassing. Trespassing is usually not illegal, but when it involves intrusion into another person’s property—such as when a person intentionally trespasses onto another person’s land to live there—it is known as “adverse possession.”
The process of acquiring property through adverse possession is complicated, and in each state, there are different requirements. To prove adverse possession, you must show that the other party has abandoned the property and that you have used it for several years. Repairs and payment of taxes will also be taken into account by the court when the land dispute is finally resolved. The process of taking ownership of a piece of real estate by occupying and using the land for a specified period. The time during which the owner can invalidate the claim.
To claim ownership of land under adverse possession, the claimant must demonstrate that their use of the land meets each of these requirements-
Continuous use: In a continuous use scenario, the claimant must demonstrate that they have been continuously using the property in question over a certain period.
A hostile takeover of the property: The adverse possessor must exhibit a true intent to possess the property in a hostile manner, meaning they have no agreements or licenses from the landowner. They must also show that there is no existing agreement or license from the landowner for this possession.
Open and notorious possession: Possession by the disseisor is so obvious either to the public or the owner that the owner cannot maintain a case for adverse possession.
Actual possession: Actual possession involves actively possessing the property. This entails paying taxes and keeping up with maintenance costs.
Exclusive use: The property is used by the disseisor alone and not by anyone else.
Adverse possession can become a powerful tool in discouraging abuses of intellectual property rights like cybersquatting, excessive copyrighting, and patent trolling. Applying the concept of “adverse possession” to intellectual property such as trademarks, patents, and copyrights could compel trademark and patent owners to proactively register and use their intellectual property.
Adverse Possession vs. Homesteading
Both adverse possession and homesteading are processes that transfer ownership of undeveloped land with an unclear public title. The difference between the two is that homesteading requires the user to improve upon the land they want to own, while adverse possession doesn’t.
Adverse possession essentially allows a person to enter and use another’s property without permission if they remain for some time. Homesteading can be considered a similar legal concept. In homesteading, the government grants ownership of unused or underused land to new owners, who may be able to continue claiming it as their own if they continue to use and improve it.
Adverse possession is a legal concept that allows people to claim an interest in land that does not legally belong to them. It can be abused and used as a legitimate legal strategy chosen by those who need to resolve long-standing disputes.
Effect of Adverse Possession
While an adverse possessor does not obtain actual title to the property by claiming it under adverse possession, he may nevertheless gain a vested right. A quiet title action initiated by the adverse possessor will result in a judgment in his favor and obtaining the property.
Limits on Adverse Possession
Under certain circumstances, adverse possession is not available. For example, in public lands, adverse possession may not result in acquiring title to the land.