Adverse possession is when somebody from a neighbor to a trespasser occupies and uses your land without permission, and then gains legal ownership by meeting certain requirements. This can occur on just a few feet of the land, or even acres of property. The most common causes of someone taking your land through adverse possession are private roads, driveways, fences, and gardens. Although adverse possession is normally an honest mistake, you could lose your land.
For a person to claim your property under adverse possession, the occupation needs to be:
- Hostile (using without permission)
- Actual (physically occupying the property)
- Open and notorious (the possession is obvious to onlookers but the owner does not have to be aware)
- Sole use (nobody else is using the property for any reason)
- Continuous possession (this changes state by state, scroll to the FAQs to find a list**)
Since the time of continuous possession of the property varies by state, we’ve included a table in the FAQs below to make looking up adverse possession regulations in your state easy.** And good news, you have ways to prevent adverse possession so you don’t lose your land.
You can prevent an adverse possession by:
- Marking your property boundaries
- Inspecting your property regularly for trespassers and act fast if you find any
- Document this in detail and with the days and times
- Renting the property to the trespassers
- Granting written permission for that person to use your land (in writing)
Still have questions about adverse possession? You’re not alone, adverse possession is a tricky topic! Here’s some of the most common FAQs our clients have asked about it.
Adverse Possession FAQs
Can a homeowners association (HOA) block adverse possession?
Yes, an HOA can restrict an owner’s right to file an adverse possession claim against the association or other neighbors over items like fences, private roads, and gardens.
The rules of your HOA community are normally listed in the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs), and can also restrict everything from the height of your fence to what pets you can have as well as rules against filing adverse possession claims against other members of the HOA. That’s why it is important to read this section carefully.
Is there a difference between adverse possession and homesteading?
Yes, there is a difference between the two as homesteading takes place on public land and adverse possession occurs on private land.
Is there a difference between an easement and adverse possession?
Yes, the difference between an easement (property owner gives permission) and adverse possession is that adverse possession is where the property is being used without the owner’s permission.
Does the statutory period start over when I buy a property?
No, the statutory period does not restart when you purchased the property, because possession doesn’t need to be by the same person for an adverse possession claim.
Do adverse possession claims end up in court?
Yes, adverse possession claims can end up in court if a solution can’t be worked out between the parties involved.
For example, a property owner can sue a trespasser or the trespasser can file a lawsuit to get a quiet title.
Can I claim adverse possession against a family member’s property?
It depends on the court on whether or not you can claim adverse possession against your family. Several courts have ruled that family members have implied consent. But this depends on the state you live in, and the court’s decision.
If I buy a property that has a neighbor’s garage or driveway on it, can I have it removed?
No. As long as the “trespasser” has complied with the statutory period, they have property rights. This is a situation that a title search should catch, and you should have been informed of the ownership interest.
Are there limits on adverse possession?
Yes, there are limits on adverse possession. For example, you can’t use adverse possession on government-owned land.
What are the adverse possession laws in my state?
Adverse possession laws change state by state, and can be updated overtime. Please always check your state’s website for any updated guidelines. The chart below is accurate as of September 29, 2022 and will guide you to the adverse possession laws in your state.
|State||Years required for possession||To make an adverse possession claim, you’ll need…
|Adverse Possession Statute|
|Alabama||10||Deed or paid taxes on the property during this time period.||Ala. Code Ann. § 6-5-200|
|Alaska||10||Only 7 years if you have a deed||Alaska Stat. Ann. § § 09.10.030, 09.45.052|
|Arizona||2||Deed or paid taxes on the property during this time period||Ariz. Rev. Stat. § § 12-522|
|Arkansas||7||Deed and paid taxes on the property during this time period||Ark. Code Ann. § § 18-61-103, 18-11-106|
|California||5||Paid taxes on the property during this time period||Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 325|
|Colorado||18||Only 7 years if you have a deed and paid taxes on the property during this time period||Colo. Rev. Stat. § § 38-41-101, 38-41-108|
|Connecticut||15||Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 52-575|
|Delaware||20||Del. Code Ann. tit. 10 § 7901|
|District of Columbia||15||Section 16–3301|
|Florida||7||Deed or paid taxes on the property during this time period||Fla. Stat. Ann. § 95.12 and following|
|Georgia||20||Only 7 years if you have a deed||Ga. Code Ann. § § 44-4-7, 44-5-14, 44-5-161|
|Hawaii||20||Haw. Rev. Stat. § 657-31 to 31.5|
|Idaho||20||Paid taxes on the property during this time period||Idaho Code Ann. § § 5-206 and following|
|Illinois||20||Only 7 years if you have a deed||735 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. § § 5/13-105, 107, 109|
|Indiana||10||Paid taxes on the property during this time period||Ind. Code Ann. § § 32-23-1-1, 34-11-2-11|
|Iowa||10||Iowa Code Ann. § 614.17A|
|Kansas||15||Kan. Stat. Ann. § 60-503|
|Kentucky||15||Only 7 years if you have a deed||Ky. Rev. Stat. § § 413.010, 413.060|
|Louisiana||30||Only 10 years if you have a deed||La. Civ. Code art. 3475, 3486|
|Maine||20||Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 14, § 801|
|Maryland||20||Md. Ann. Code [Cts. & Jud. Proc.] § 5-103|
|Massachusetts||20||Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 260, § 21|
|Michigan||15||Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 600.5801|
|Minnesota||15||Paid taxes on the property during this time period||Minn. Stat. Ann. § 541.02|
|Mississippi||10||Miss. Code Ann. § § 15-1-7, 15-1-13|
|Missouri||10||Mo. Stat. Ann. § 516.010|
|Montana||5||Paid taxes on the property during this time period||Mont. Code Ann. § 70-19-411|
|Nebraska||10||Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-202|
|Nevada||15||Only 5 years if you have a deed and paid taxes on the property during this time period||Nev. Rev. Stat. § § 11.070, 11.110, 11.150, 40.090|
|New Hampshire||20||N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 508:2|
|New Jersey||30||N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:14-30|
|New Mexico||10||N.M. Stat. Ann. § 37-1-22|
|New York||10||New York Real Prop. Acts. Law § 501, 511|
|North Carolina||20||Only 7 years if you have a deed||N.C. Gen. Stat. § § 1-38, 1-40|
|North Dakota||20||Only 5 years if you have a deed and paid taxes on the property during this time period||N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § § 28-01-04 and following, 47-06-03|
|Ohio||21||Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2305.04|
|Oklahoma||15||Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 12, § 93|
|Oregon||10||Or. Rev. Stat. § § 12.050, 105.620|
|Pennsylvania||21||Only 10 years for single family homes on parcels less than 0.5 acres||42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5530|
|Rhode Island||10||R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 34-7-1|
|South Carolina||10||S.C. Code Ann. § 15-67-210|
|South Dakota||20||Only 10 years if you have a deed||S.D. Codified Laws Ann. § § 15-3-1, 15-3-15|
|Tennessee||7||Tenn. Code Ann. § § 28-2-101 to 28-2-103|
|Texas||10||Only 5 years if you have a deed and paid taxes on the property during this time period||Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 16.021|
|Utah||7||Utah Code Ann. § § 78B-2-208 to 78B-2-214|
|Vermont||15||Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 12, § 501|
|Virginia||15||Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-236|
|Washington||10||Only 7 years if you have a deed or paid taxes on the property during this time period||Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § § 4.16.020, 7.28.050|
|West Virginia||10||W. Va. Code § 55-2-1|
|Wisconsin||20||Only 10 years if you have a deed
Only 7 years if you have a deed and paid taxes on the property during this time period
|Wis. Stat. Ann. § § 893.25 to 893.27|
|Wyoming||10||Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 1-3-103|
**As of 9/29/22
Being aware of the risk of adverse possession can help you prevent it and take steps to ensure that this doesn’t happen to you. If you’d like a title search done or to talk to a title insurance expert and see if adverse possession applies to your situation, call us today.