Adverse Possession

Adverse Possession: Overview

Adverse possession . is a basis for claiming title to property when a person or entity who is not the rightful owner of a specified parcel of land enters into possession of the land and maintains possession for the statutory period of time. Generally, cases have ruled that such possession must be open, notorious, hostile, and continuous for a statutory period of years. 


Adverse possession may be made  under color of title” or “without color of title.” When taken under color of title, the adverse possessor is in possession by virtue of a recorded document, a deed, tax deed (or even a void or forged deed), or will – that leads him to believe he has a legal right to the property. When taken without color of title, the adverse possessor has no such documentation by which to assert his supposed legal right to the property. In some states, adverse possession taken without color of title requires the adverse possessor to pay all taxes and matured installments of special improvement liens that attach to the property during the period of adverse possession. Some states provide for a shorter period of possession when there is color of title and payment of taxes.


Title by adverse possession is not considered marketable title and, therefore, the title must be confirmed by a proper court order prior to issuing title insurance on same.