When you own a piece of property, you must be aware of those who may intentionally or unintentionally trespass upon it. The term trespass may refer to someone physically occupying your property or building a structure upon it. Whether you are aware of the trespass or not, over time, this can lead the trespasser, also known as a disseisor, to acquire legal ownership through an adverse possession claim.
To do so, five key conditions must be met:
- The disseisor must openly and notoriously occupy the property (where it is obvious that the person is occupying said property).
- The property must be used continuously and uninterrupted.
- The disseisor must utilize the property as if they were the actual owner (such as maintaining the land or paying taxes).
- The occupation must be hostile (meaning the person must know they are trespassing or have made a good faith mistake due to faulty information)
- The disseisor must be able to prove there is no easement, lease, or rental agreement for the use of the property.
It’s much rarer, but adverse possession may also refer to non-real property, such as artwork.
There are statutes of limitations in most states when it comes to fighting against adverse possession. If you are aware of someone trespassing or encroaching upon your property and you would like to recover possession of the real or non-real property, do not wait to file your petition.