Adverse Possession

5 Replies

Hello BP,

I was reading over some info and came across this link regarding adverse possession

Most states have a decade or more timeframe. However there are a few states that have 5 years with taxes paid receipt and its legal. Now, there are the additional requirements to legalize the take-over (hostile, notorious, actual and continuously exclusive) of ones property. Yet in todays world of determined scammers its doable. You might think if someone pays your tax bill for you you'd know...stranger things have happened. Will the county gladly accept payment from both the actual owner on deed and the squatter turned tenant? Will they at least notify the deed holder? Maybe. Again...stranger things have happened.

Anywho, this is not a scare but more of a be aware tactic for those of you who chose to have far out of state residual income properties. For most MFRs, a property manager is there on your behalf. Even a duplex or triplex usually has a tenant there who will definitely keep a watch on residency. Aside from the ocassional nosey neighbor, SFRs can be most vulnerable. Especially non-rowhouses. You definitely want someone on the ground that you trust to look out for your investment in the event you can't get there once a month. Feel free to add any comments,  suggestions or stories -- newbies and seasoned REIs.



If you maintain control over possession and pay the taxes from accounts that you ultimately control, it would be pretty hard for a would-be adverse possessor to prove up in a QTA. I'm assuming your concern is for your position as a property owner as to the potential for threat of loss?

Hi @Rick H.  

I know its not very likely for this to happen on a constant basis. Depending on how much of an absentee owner someone is can present the risk. Many homeowners have properties that they forget about (inheritance for example)  or / and don't have much interest in that's located in another region of the country. They don't think much of it. Figure their spouse or other relative took care of it.  This was just an fyi in those cases in certain states.



Been in a few of these. It always pays to confirm who is in possession. I had two clients in my early years that each successfully ended owning an expensive house free and clear. California's short 5 year period is attractive to these people. When the actual owners finally showed up it was too late. I bought one once with a couple trying to pull that trick, thought they could play it out but they left in a hurry when my new tenants showed up to take possession, a well know group to law enforcement. The group was glad to return a favor, and I was glad to get uncontested possession so quickly. I understand they headed for L. A., the Bay Area wasn't to there liking anymore, I don't know why, they got to live in a nice home and good area cheaply and I understand made a few bucks renting out rooms. I guess they were upset they missed the big payday.

@Brian P.

Wow, so you got your tenants in there within the nick of time. I see about a dozen states have that 5 year (with taxes or deed) time period for adverse possession. It may seem far fetched to some but there are tons of offers from people on craigslist, for example that offer to put the deed in someone's name for a small fee and the county will gladly accept payment from any tom, jane or harry. Considering how many investors come across absentee owners in numerous housing market across the country and back; on an ugly house we think of it as nothing. Yet there are high end homes that can be at risk also having absentee owners. I recall a story about a homeless guy that was somewhat knowledgeable about Texas laws and found a house that all he had to do was live in for another 6 months and it would legally become his. The neighbors were livid. Which I'm sure that's how it ended up on the news. The house had to be worth at least $300K as-is. Thanks for sharing your story, Brian.



@Rick H. does adverse possession work for investors that wish to gain control of a property but the owner is deceased? I've done some research and found that the court has reached out and there are no heirs or family that have come forward in over 4 years. Taxes are past due and should go to tax sale this spring. I think it's a gamble. If I were to cloud title legally do you think I could claim the property after the CA 5 year guideline is up? 

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