Monday, April 15, 2013
by Alfredo Alvarez
Adverse Possession reminds me of a quote "if you don't use it you lose it" (movie) for some reason, where in if you neglect a parcel of property for a given amount of years, the land that once was yours may be taken away from you by another party, even without you knowing. The definition of adverse possession is just that it is "when someone occupies property for a statutory period of time, 7-20 years typically, without the owner's permission and gains an ownership interest in the property" as defined by Real Estate Analysis: Environments and Activities by Julian Diaz III and J. Andrew Hansz, where they also illustrate this process by giving a simple example of a neighbor and a dog house. Imagine owning a parcel of land in the woods, after several years you decided to have it surveyed, upon doing so you find your neighbor has his doghouse on your land. After bringing this to his attention and asking your neighbor to relocate the doghouse you are answered with an explanation of how the doghouse will not be moved since it has resided in the same location for many years. After taking the dispute to court you find that the defendant was awarded ownership of not only the land the doghouse sat on but the nearby land as well.
In this case the process for adverse possession was meet. Some of the criteria listed by a study material on CA.Gov (address citied below) are:
1. The land must be occupied in a hostile manner. This does not necessarily mean by force, only that the land is being used without the owners knowledge.
2. The land must be in actual, open and notorious possession. While occupying the land you must not be doing so in secrecy, but in fact be open so that others may see that it is you who is occupying and making improvements on the land.
3. Exclusive and continuous possession. You alone must occupy the land for the duration of the adverse possession in order for him to be considered owner, nor can the adversee leave and try to combine previous years with present years after another took hold of the land.
4. some states may require for taxes to be paid for the statutory time period. If taxes are not paid but all other requirements are then the trespasser will be issued a perspective easement to use the property.
In conclusion, if you are going to be owning property that you will not have easy access to be warn others may try and succeed on claiming it for themselves through adverse possession. There are ways to ward off such intruders and keep your property safer than as if it were to be if unattended. One can simply post signs and block off any roads that may be used to enter your property, another effective and my personal favorite is giving them permission to use your property and having it in writing. By doing so you are not only eliminating their ability to use your land by force but they are now making improvements on your land with your permission that you may remove at a later time if you ever decide to do so, this method would be less of a hassle for the owner. The last step would be to try and rend out the property that is being used, doing so might have consequence as far as the person trespassing not wanting to pay, which would lead to going to court and possibly having a drawn out case. Always remember to use your property or you may lose it.
Apatow, Judd, dir. 40-year-old-virgin. Universal Pictures. 2005. Film
Diaz, Julian, and J. Andrew. Hansz. "Political and Legal Environments." Real Estate Analysis: Environments and Activities. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Pub., 2010. 182-183. Print.
California Adverse Possession, April 12,2013