Anyone done Adverse Possession?

4 Replies

Hey BP,

I have an interesting situation that I've been working on for a year and was thinking maybe you could help out. 

There's an abandoned property in my area that's sitting in a Class B neighborhood. The city said it's been vacant for decades, so I skiptraced the owner on title and finally got a hold of him. He said he didn't even know he still owned that property, I had to repeat the address like 5 times and describe it before he remembered. He says he lost it in a bankruptcy, back in the 90s......then who's been paying property taxes???

So I contact the tax collector and got the name of the people paying property tax all these years and then skip traced them. They said that for some reason, when the court ordered the transfer of the property into their name, it was never properly recorded and they've been trying to hunt down the court order for the last decade.  

I visited the county recorder's office and assessor, they say that they don't see anything about the property transferring to these new owners. The original owner has a clean title to it. 

The people asked me to help and the only thing I can think of is adverse possession. They've already been paying taxes, they have someone staying in a trailer in the backyard to prevent squatters. 

Have any of you gone through the process? Is it realistic? I don't want to swoop in and buy the property from the owner on title since I believe these people and they've been paying taxes for years. Thanks

A lot easier to find the court order.....if it actually happened it’s in a court file somewhere and shouldn’t be too hard to track down with the parties names and a general timeline, then record it.

Meanwhile, go back to the current owner of record.  Tell the owner he appears to be right about loosing the property in a bankruptcy but the new owner has left the  the title to the property in a mess and you'd like his help clearing it up.  Ask him for a quit claim deed in which he grants his interest to you.  Offer him a modest incentive of $100 to $500.  If he gives you a quit claim deed, then record it, and you become the new owner of record.    Then offer the people who've been paying the taxes a reasonable amount for their interest or offer to sell them yours..    

In regard to your question, "Have any of you gone through the process? Is it realistic?"  …. "The people (who have been paying the taxes) asked me to help and the only thing I can think of is adverse possession."

The way to clear up the title is by filing a "Quiet Title" Action.  That is a law suit asking the Court to grant clear title to the party that has been paying the taxes, the party that believes they obtained title interest in the property through a bankruptcy order.   The current owner of record would need to be notified of the Quiet Title suit and given a chance to respond.  In my experience, previous owners who believe they lost a property long ago, seldom respond.   However, if the current owner of record does appear and does claim an interest in the property, then the party who has been paying the taxes would need to either provide the bankruptcy judgement as proof of their interest, or make a claim of adverse possession (that is assuming they can meet the legal requirements for adverse possession).  

Good luck.  Let us know what you decide.

@Wayne Brooks @Mr Davido 

Thank you for the responses. Sounds like the easiest way is to just find the court documents. I'm seeing if I can gather some basic information and go down to the court to find them. 

Good news is, the owner on title doesn't care at all and is difficult to communicate with. He most likely wouldn't respond.