How do the rules of adverse possession work?

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How do the rules of adverse possession work?

We bought property from my husband’s parents in 1995 that was already fenced and placed a doublewide home on the property. We decided that we would like to sell and had a survey done. We found out that our property under fence was not the same as the description on our deed. We have a strip of property that is 30′ x 187′ that is not included in our description. I checked with the county appraiser’s office and they have no owner on record for this strip. We also have had a title search done and again we could find no legal recorded owner. Five feet of my home sits on this strip. Can I file AP?

Asked on June 21, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

To acquire title by adverse possession, such possession must be adverse, hostile, open or notorious, exclusive and uninterrupted, for seven years.

There are two types of adverse possession. Adverse possession under "color of law" means the possessor’s ownership claim is based upon a written document in the county public records. Adverse possession without "color of law"means there is no recorded document purportedly creating ownership.  Your situation seems to fall under the latter of these two types of adverse possession.  Now use of the property is not enough to claim ownership or entitlement. You must pay the property taxes and installments of all special improvement liens levied against the property by the state, county and city. The additional requirement of tax payments not only evidences your claim of ownership, but places the record owner on notice that property taxes are being paid by someone else. That gives the record owner an opportunity to investigate and take action.  If not, then see if there is an additional requirement to "quiet title" otherwise in seven years it could be yours.


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