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Real Estate Law

Taking or Defending Property from Adverse Possession

By April 19, 2021

You’ve probably heard of “squatter’s rights,” a colloquial term for a legal concept known as adverse possession. But what does it really mean and what does the law say about adverse possession in Texas? Read on for an explanation from our team at Lovelace Law.

What is Adverse Possession?

Adverse possession is a unique mechanism under Texas law that allows an individual to take another individual’s real property without their permission – legally! You may be asking why such a mechanism exists, and since it exists, how does it occur in order to prevent it from happening to you. Or, perhaps, in order to successfully adversely possess another’s property you have had your eye on…

What are the Legal Requirements of Adverse Possession in Texas?

The legal requirements to adversely possess another’s property are difficult to satisfy. The reason for this is because it is a legal yet drastic avenue of allowing an individual to essentially take another’s property without their permission.

In order for an individual to adversely possess another’s real property, they must first:

  • actually possess and use the property
  • their use and possession must be clearly visible, or “open and notorious,” to the true owner of the property

The individual must further:

  • intend to possess and use the property as their own at the exclusion of the true owner.
    These requirements are often achieved, for example, when the adverse possessor erects a fence that encloses a portion of another’s property for their own use.

What Time Requirements are There?

In addition to the above requirements, the adverse possessor must possess the real property for a certain period of time. In most cases, this required period of time is 10 years. However, if the adverse possessor has been paying taxes on the possessed property, this period of time may be shortened to 5 years.

Finally, the individual’s adverse possession and use of the property must be peaceable. That is, the true owner must not interrupt the adverse possession by filing a lawsuit against the adverse possessor to reclaim the possession of the property during the entire 10-year (or 5-year, if applicable) period.

Why Does the State of Texas Uphold Adverse Possession?

Once an individual has satisfied the above requirements and is able to prove it before a court, Texas law provides that the land the individual had adversely possessed is now theirs and no longer the original owner’s.

Although this legal mechanism may seem harsh, the reasoning behind the law is that the state of Texas wants individuals within the state to use the land within the state as efficiently as possible. If an individual can prove they adversely possessed another’s property for such an extended period of time, and they gave the true owner constructive notice that they were using the true owner’s property during that time while the true owner did nothing to prevent it, then the true owner no longer deserves to claim the land as their own. The adverse possessor has proven they are more efficiently using it.

Learn More About Adverse Possession in Texas: Contact Lovelace Law, P.C.

In short, if you own significant acreage somewhere in Texas that you have not visited in years, be sure to check up on it to ensure that no one has been using it under your nose – as it may become theirs!

Alternatively, if you have been possessing and using another’s land for close to 10 years, you may have an adverse possession claim! In either circumstance, the attorneys here at Lovelace Law would be happy to assist you in either claiming (or reclaiming) real property that has been adversely possessed.