Adverse Possession and Squatter's Rights...

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by givemeadozen, Jun 15, 2004.

  1. givemeadozen

    givemeadozen Member

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    Do any of you have experience or knowledge of how adverse possession works, rules, laws, etc. ?
    Thanks,
    Kate
     
  2. PACrofter

    PACrofter Well-Known Member

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    Adverse possession is governed by state law, so it varies. I had to do some research here in Maryland because a cranky absentee neighbor raised a stink when I replaced a 40-year old fence. (So far, knock on wood, he's backed off.) In general, there are requirements about using the land openly, paying the tax on it, etc. A quick Google search turned up the following link that may be useful to you:

    http://www.water-law.com/adverse_possession.htm

    Otherwise, a trip to the library should result in plenty of reference materials, or you could ask a real estate agent -- although you'd probably want to verify your information, especially if you're going to be involved in any legal actions.

     

  3. comfortablynumb

    comfortablynumb Well-Known Member

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    ok my dead uncle sorta had a squatter house, actually it was my great grannies house but anyhow..
    all started way back when the railroad ran past that road, someone built a house there, and somehow they came to live there but the railroad didnt say nothing and the neighbors didnt say nothing so after a time by suqattewrs rights they came into posession of said plot.

    after he died i looked into it more, and I cant say if the land rights still work like this but, as I read the laws if you live in a home/plot for longer than 7yrs and the owner knows and doesnt object or arrange a lease/sale, you can claim squatters rights. In a related thing, if you are left as caretaker of a home or property, and are out of contact with the owner for 7 yrs, its yours by abandoned property rights. you cant just show up set up housekeeping and avoid the owners it dont work that way. as i read it in pa anyhow the laws are still standing.
    this is similar to buying abandoned tax propertys, sas the municipality wants its taxes and if they cant get ahold of the owner for a few yrs they will sell it for the taxes to get their money. my dead uncles house has had a tax sale notice on it for 25 yrs. I did investigate it a long tiime ago and found out they didnt own anything but the house and a tiny part of the land, the rest of the farm they leased from the neighbor, so it wasnt worth the back taxes.

    if you find a house, make a public effort to find the owner and cant, and live there for a set time, by law, I bet you can claim it for the back taxes. check with the tax office how long they let property taxes go unpaid before they sell.
    youd be suprised how many places are sitting empty for just back taxes!
     
  4. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    As mentioned above, it varies from state to state. You may have to talk to an attorney to find out the definitive rules which apply in your state.

    Ken S. in WC TN
     
  5. Gina

    Gina Active Member

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    In Missouri, the county courthouse had a tax sale every August. They put a notice in the paper of all properties up for tax sale. If it was a first or second year sale and you bought it for the taxes, the owner had so long to pay you for the taxes and you HAD to sell it back to them for that amount. For 3rd years and longer, they went to an attorney's office near the courthouse. He kept plenty of them in his office. There, you could look through them and see where they are, go look at them and if you found some you wanted to buy, you just paid the back taxes and a few fees and it was yours. However, the best properties were always sold in the 1st and possibly second year. Many beautiful old homes in town and wonderful country property went like that. But BEWARE!!!! If there is a lien on the property, you have to pay it too!!! So, make sure you check out tax sale properties very carefully.

    As for squatter's rights, my step mother's family owns 160 acres in Montana. They had a lady come in, fence off 30 acres and build on it and live there. Since the family didn't visit the land, they didn't know. After she was there so many years, she went to an attorney and said she was there and showed all she had done and through the attorney and courts, she was able to gain the 30 acres for herself and there was nothing the family could do about it.

    Gina
     
  6. comfortablynumb

    comfortablynumb Well-Known Member

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    if you own 160 acres in montana you never visit you deserve to have a squatter claim it.

    LOL
    any of that plot left?
     
  7. westbrook

    westbrook In Remembrance

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    I am in shock that people would blatantly steal something that belongs to another. And even more appalled that the court goes along with it.

    What happened to 'Civil Liberties and Personal Proptery Rights!'

    Shame on a person if they are going to TAKE something that someone has worked so hard for just because they don't live there! That makes the 'squatter' a theif and should be arrested for a multitude of things.

    Thank you for posting this. An 'notice to quit' will be sent promptly. New signs will now be posted... "NO Trespassing, Written Permission To Pass Required". I am not ready to retire to my property, my DH still has to work so we can. Maybe we will never get to realize our dream, maybe it is something we leave to our children...but to have someone come in and take it? because we own it and they want it?

    How does one justify this?
     

  8. While I agree with you completely:

    What happens to a property when the owner just totally 'disappears' and there it sits, unkempt, no taxes paid, no nothing? For many properties, no big deal. But for others, it is a big deal.

    Also, when property lines become mis-managed, and the ajoining properties change hands several times over - and then years later the error is dicovered? How do you resolve that? The people who erred are long gone, everyone since operated in good faith?

    There has to bew a way to resolve these issues, to let people & property move on.

    I think 7 years is long enough - if a property owner is not checking up on things in that time - who do you really have to blame????

    --->Paul
     
  9. Well, that's not entirely fair. When you look at all of the steps that have to be taken, the cases in which adverse possession is unjust to the prior owner are very far and few between. Not non-existant, but very rare. The purpose of the law is to reappropriate land from those who have abandoned their property rights.

    For example, without that law most of the early settlers out West would not have any legal rights to what we all recognize as their land. After the Civil war, the Federal government awarded land to many veterans and their widows as part of their benefits. The problem was that most of these people had a legal title to 160 acres hundreds of miles away and never so much as looked at it. Bear in mind that this included huge swaths of ideal farmland sitting idle. After decades had passed it became clear that most of the families that owned the property had either forgotten about it or just didn't care and were never going to do anything with it. That land was redistributed to settlers and squatters because it was the right and logical thing to do. This was an important part of opening up the American West.

    In my own neighborhood (haven't been able to build the new place yet) there is a house that has been vacant for over 15 years. The owner has been located - he lives in Florida now, has no identifiable relatives and he is completely off his rocker. Certifiably crazy, with no desire to do anything with the property here in Virginia. Meanwhile, the windows are all boarded up, rats are living under the crawlspace, criminals use the backyard to sell drugs from, litter has piled up and the yard is practically a jungle. This is otherwise a very nice neighborhood. I wish to God that someone would claim squatters rights and take that property away from the person who has abandoned it to the detriment of his former neighbors.

    I would say that for totally undeveloped, rural property, squatters rights should be abolished now that there is no longer a compelling national need to open up rural land for development and there is no harm being done to neighbors. But in towns and cities, I support squatting law.


     
  10. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    Maybe this should be a new thread, but here goes;

    There is a property (40 acres) for sale that I was interested in. The listing realtor did not know the right location. I found the property, about 6 miles from where she claimed it was. She had sold it previously and the person who bought it was trying to resell. The place she thought it was, was actually BLM land! I wondered, what if the owner had built on what he thought he owned. What would happen to him?
     
  11. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    Cyngbaeld,

    1) If it is BLM land then Federal law trumps state law. End of discussion.
    2) If the purchaser doesn't check the legal description against the property then shame on them....they deserve the troubles they get for treating a major purchase as a trivial matter.

    As usual, just my 2 cents.

    Mike
     
  12. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    They might have lived on the property indefinitely. However, had BLM eventually noticed, likely they would have been forced to move without compensation. Excellent example of why you should get a title search and title insurance when purchasing property.

    I don't think adverse possession is as simple as implied. I believe, at least in TN, the property owner has to be aware you are on their property and don't outright object to it. Example: one of the guys currently renting out my fields for rowcrops said he owned one field, but didn't farm part of it for one reason or another. Neighbor asked if he could fence off that portion to run cattle on. He said OK. When he went to sell his property he found the person (after some years of use) had filed for and obtained title to that portion.

    Advserve possession is a different concept than acquiring a property for unpaid taxes.

    Ken S. in WC TN
     
  13. Blu3duk

    Blu3duk Well-Known Member

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    You dont "own" property, you rent it from the county/state you reside in.... if you really think you "own" it then dont pay your taxes on it and see how long you get to stay there. All you have are "posseonary rights". You purchase the right to exist on premis, make a living there and retain the biggest share of what you make off the land....

    every piece of land traded today stems from the 1811 homestead laws, whreby any piece of ground given up by a person reverts back to the US land office, unless it is record to another person for homesteading on..... ergo "homestead exemptions" in every state to a varying degree and meaning. Of course through the years the laws were changed but some were never repealed just covered up to keep the sheeple from becoming aware that they are nothing more than glorified slaves and sharecroppers of the state.

    have a nice day

    William
     
  14. Gina

    Gina Active Member

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    Well, we don't own the land. My step-mother's family does. We could have free use of it if we wanted to but there is nothing there. Just the stone foundation of the old homestead house still exists. Other than that, there is nothing there. Sometimes I think on using it but, if I did that and put all my effort into building it up, we'd lose it all the moment my father and step-mother get divorced. Which by the way, doesn't seem to be too far off. Besides that, she would expect to have more than 50% say in what we do on the land and would assume the right to tell us how to live our lives. So, while the land would be free to use, the price would be incredibly high. <sigh> Oh well, I hear the winters there are brutal!


    Gina