Adverse possession legal advice needed, LA.

5 Replies

My brother lives near an abandoned property that has been vacant for 10 years now. I was able to identify the owner via emailing the tax assessor for our parish and have mailed 2 letters both to their current address and the abandoned property's address. So far no one has contacted me, and I've been looking into adverse possession laws in my state. I'm mainly curious if I were to pay the property taxes for the property would I be able to cover the risk of them asserting possession after I have paid the taxes? (E.g. Is it possible to work with a lawyer to get in writing that if the property owner claims ownership of the property that I am entitled to the reimbursement of the funds I spent paying off the taxes?)

I am actively trying to reach out to the owner, not trying to take what hasn't already been abandoned. Just want to clarify that. 

Paying taxes is not adverse possession. You haven't possessed anything. If you're trying to purchase your way into ownership via the unpaid tax route, that's another matter. To adverse possess, you need to fence of and notoriously defend that property against others and most especially the true owner for the requset time period. Likely 20 years. Then file suit for court to recognize your ownership has truly ripened into title.


@Jeremiah Helg While adverse possession laws vary greatly state-to-state, what you described doesn’t sound like adverse possession in any state. 

Adverse possession typically requires the open and notorious occupying of someone else’s property but without the owner’s permission. That’s true in my state, and appears to be true in yours as well from what I can tell. 

The paying of property taxes may or may not be required, depending on the state. It is a requirement for adverse possession in my state, but does not appear to be an absolute requirement in yours.

Though I think the issue of property taxes is a moot point in this case because it appears, based on what you wrote, that your brother never actually lived on this property. He just lived “near” it. And as I previously mentioned, he would have needed to actually occupy it (for at least 10 years it appears in your state) to have even a possible claim for adverse possession.

You can read more about adverse possession here. However, I’d save your money and wouldn’t even consider paying the property taxes on this abandoned property as it won’t get you any closer to owning it. 

I would hire a skip tracer to find them. It's likely, they may be deceased so you'd be looking for an heir. If you do not get any response, just watch the property and if it goes unpaid be ready to pay the taxes. Also search for any mortgages. Who is maintaining the grass? If there is a weed ordinance and your brother is cutting the grass, tell him to stop then file a complaint. The city could try to find them.