Can I claim a property as my own if the landlord has abandoned it?

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Can I claim a property as my own if the landlord has abandoned it?

I have lived in my home for 4 years. Before a year was up, the landlord just disappeared on me. I tried to contact him numerous times but I never was able to find him. I even tried googeling his last name and calling the family members that I found but to no avail. I want to seek possession and ownership of the property. All repairs that have been made in his absence have been paid for out of my pocket. Is this a legitimate cause?

Asked on September 26, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Indiana

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, it is not.  Being a tenant on the property does not give you any rights to claim it as your own, unless you do so under principles recognized under the law like Adverse Possession or possibly having the place declared abandoned or condemned depending.  Paying for the repairs to the property which are the responsibility of the landlord gives you nothing more than a right to sue him for the money expended on behalf of his property.  If they are repairs that effect your warranty of habitability ( like heat, electric, etc.) then you can also ask the court for a rent abatement (reduction) for the time that the services were not provided.  Speak with an attorney in your area about a legal way to achieve your "cause."  Good luck.


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