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 (@jrdorkin, Google+) founded when he saw a need for free, trustworthy information about real estate investing online. Over the past 12 years, Josh has grown the site from self-funded hobby to full-time job and passion. Today, BiggerPockets brings together over 850,000 members, housing the world’s largest library of real estate content, iTunes’ #1 real estate podcast, and an array of analysis tools, all geared toward helping users succeed.


  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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