Adverse possession enables a person to gain ownership of land without buying it. It can happen when someone begins using a neighbor's property without permission. One example would be a man who starts parking vehicles on the neighbor's land, or extends his fence or landscaping beyond his borders. After time, he can actually claim ownership to the property he has been using. Before a person claims land via adverse possession, a series of conditions must be met.
Use the land openly. "Open" use of the land is one condition required to claim adverse possession. The use of the property should be obvious to anyone who sees. It would not apply to the neighbor who sneakily uses his neighbor's property, such as tunneling under the property line and building a basement on his neighbor's land.
Make sure other people see you using the land. Another condition of adverse possession is referred to as "notorious" possession. Other people have to know about the use.
Continue using the land without interruption. How long the use must be going on varies from state to state. Some states require as little as five years of continual and uninterrupted use, while other states might require three decades of use.
Don't ask for permission to use the land. If the owner has not given permission to use the land, the use is considered "hostile". Another condition in qualifying for adverse possession is "hostile" use. If your neighbor gives you permission to use a portion of his property, you can't come back later and claim ownership via adverse possession.
File a request for clear title. Once the conditions are met for adverse possession, the claimant must file a court action requesting undisputed title.
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