Possession of real property is given a large extent of legal protection. Even a party who has unlawful possession of the real property has the right to exclude anyone else from the possession except for the true owner. If possessed for a certain period of time, the person in possession can potentially become the owner through a process of adverse possession. Adverse possession law implements a statute of limitations that precludes all others from contesting the title of the possession. Adverse possession is also referred to as “legal squatting”, it is enforceable in many Countries such as UK, Scotland, Netherlands, Spain, Canada, Australia, as well as the United States.
Adverse possession has been enforced since the 1400’s in Europe and was implemented in the United States during the 1600’s. Adverse possession initially became common when there was unused land which was considered a waste of space. If an individual can benefit from that land and can benefit the land itself, according to adverse possession law, it should be theirs. The average land owner may have no idea regarding adverse possession law until they are directly affected by it, which results in excessive financial spending in order to defend their property/rights. More of these cases are becoming common now that the economy is stumbling and there is a growth in unemployment.
There are two forms of adverse possession, under color of title, and without color of title. Under a color title generally refers to when the possessor’s ownership claim is in regards to a written document under the county public records. Without color means there are no recorded documents allegedly creating ownership. Under color of title, in order to claim adverse possession, the document allegedly creating title does not have to be valid. On the other hand, the possessor must have accepted the instrument in the honest belief that it transferred ownership.
Possession means that the property has actually been consumed or confined. When dealing with a large property, and only a piece of it has been cleared or enclosed, the entire property can be regarded as possessed if the use is established for the area. The possessor must make adverse possession visible under color of title by clear and convincing evidence, not merely by the greater weight of evidence, as is the usual standard in civil lawsuits.
Adverse possession without color of title is not by a recorded conveyance. The statute requires more than mere possession. The possessor must also pay the property taxes and installments of all special improvement liens levied against the property by the state, county and city. The additional requirement of tax payments not only portrays the possessor claims ownership, but places the current owner on notice that property taxes are being paid by someone else.
That gives the record owner an opportunity to investigate and take action. In conclusion, adverse possession law under goes a lot of debate regarding its morality, it is often referred to as “stealing”. In this case, I guess if you snooze, you lose, because there are a lot of people who attempt to acquire property through this process. It is a cycle, happened when land was taken from the Native Indians, and now there is an attempt for the same process to be directed towards the higher class, who intentionally gate their property, if they are knowledgeable of this method of acquiring property.