Real Estate Vocabulary: Adverse Posession

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Adverse posession is a method of acquiring the title to someone else’s property by occupying the property against the rightful owner’s rights. NOTE: Adverse posession cannot occur on publicly owned (government) land.

According to Wikipedia, “Adverse possession requires the actual, visible, hostile, notorious, exclusive, and continuous possession of the property, and some jurisdictions further require the possession to be made under a claim of title or a claim of right.”

Basically, this is essentially squatting, except in the end, one can actually gain title through adverse posession. There are various requirements for gaining title, and they do vary across states. These requirements include: a) the person (adverse posessor) must pay taxes on the property for consecutive years, b) the person must use the property for an uninterrupted, continuous period of time (varies by state), c) the person must be in posession of the property openly (not hiding or secretly posessing it), d) the person must have some kind of claim for the title.

Given that the proper conditions are met for the state that the property resides in, a person can actually squat on another’s property and gain it through adverse posession.

Adverse posession has raised somewhat of a debate on owners rights, similar to eminent-domain, as both entail property owners losing out to others who wish to posess their property.

Discuss Eminent Domain
Discuss Averse Posession


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Joshua Dorkin

Joshua Dorkin is a serial entrepreneur, investor, podcaster, publisher, educator, and co-author of How to Invest in Real Estate. He started BiggerPockets to help democratize the real estate investing landscape for himself and others, aiming to make it accessible for everyone, regardless of income or education. Today, BiggerPockets is the premier real estate investing website online with over one million members and reaching over 70 million people with the message of financial freedom through real estate investing. Joshua, along with his wife and three daughters, make their home in Denver, Colorado, and spend any time they can traveling, exploring, and adventuring. Read more about Joshua’s story in 5280 and


  1. It seems like adverse posession and eminent domain are both just legal loopholes to let people get your proprety even though they have no rights to them. Eminent domain is another reason we’re losing our rights under president Bush, here in the USA.

  2. Have seen this used in elder abuse/elder fraud. The nice sympathetic person writes up a contract that allows them to convert part of a house into a rental, and “agrees” to pay the property taxes as part of the deal. The case I’m familiar with the con artists took most of the house in the “remodel” leaving the elder with only a barely accessible space, didn’t finish all of the remodeling, didn’t give her income from the one unit they did rent….needless to say they DID pay the taxes (surprise surprise!). Another few years & they would have stolen the property outright. Fortunately the family found out, stepped in & after a huge amount of legal work got rid of the scumbags.

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