Monday, November 11, 2013
Blog Post 2: Adverse Possession
Adverse possession, which is also called squatters rights, is when someone gains ownership of a piece of property if they used the property as an owner would for a long enough period of time. There has been some confusion about the extent of this legislation. Many believe that you’ll one day lose some property that you’ve had for years or that you can just take a house from the bank for nothing at all.
The original intent of this legislation was to encourage owners to use their property to the best of its ability. It was aimed at farmers and it usually involved a few feet. Property records weren’t what they are today so adverse possession was used to settle disputes. Two farmers could have adjacent properties where Farmer A could work, till, and plant on his land but encroach on the land of Farmer B by a few feet. So after some time if Farmer A decides to put up a fence and Farmer B notices that the fence is farther on his property than it used to be, Farmer A would gain possession of the land. The reason being that Farmer A has been using and maintaining the land.
Other requirements that many don’t know are time, legal right, and property taxes. The time necessary differs from state to state and it differs from 7 to 20 years. If this time is disturbed or reported as trespassing then the land can’t be taken. Also the one who is in line take the piece of land must have a legal right to be there. In the farmer example, the famers have adjacent land so their legal right is explained. Many court have not granted adverse possession to someone who randomly decides to squat on a piece of land. A case in Florida is currently in litigation about a man who squatted for seven years. If the person actually wins the case, it’s being predicted that property taxes he’d have to pay back would amount to about a quarter of a million dollars. The reason for the property tax pay back is because you earn the property because you show that you will take responsibility for the property and the taxes are included in that.
The trouble with adverse possession today is that it is on the rise across the country. Foreclosures are at an all time high and with these increases in vacant homes; individuals and families are trying to take advantages of this litigation. The numbers of cases are increasing about families squatting in expensive homes to live for free until they file for adverse possession. In most of these cases, the families are being evicted because neighbors are reporting the squatters as trespassers. Another danger squatters are bringing is damage to the properties they squat in. When the squatters can’t get the property and are getting evicted, they will destroy or take anything they like from the property. Families are also squatting to try and save their homes from foreclosure but lawyers say that it won’t work. The residents become trespassers once the home is foreclosed upon and can be dealt with as such by the authorities.
Many believe that squatter’s rights shouldn’t exist. They argue it shouldn’t matter what someone does with their property. They should be able to choose how much or how little they do with their property. It is their right as an owner. It does seem to be an outdated piece of legislation in the general sense. It seems useful as its original intent to settle property line disputes but with property records what they are today, the issue shouldn’t arise too often.
Carmel, Lucy. "Squat to Own: Adverse Possession Going Mainstream?" WEWS Newsnet5. Scripps Media, 4 Feb. 2013. Web. 11 Nov. 2013.
Diaz III, Julian & J. Andrew Hansz. Real Estate Analysis: Environments and Activities. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt, 2010.
Estrin, Michael. "Adverse Possession: Can You Squat to Own?" Bankrate. N.p., 27 July 2012. Web. 11 Nov. 2013.
"Squatting in Foreclosed Homes on the Rise?" AOL Real Estate Blog. Ed. AOL Real Estate Editor. AOL, 7 May 2013. Web. 11 Nov. 2013.